Oman qualifies for Gulf Cup semi-finals

Oman qualifies for Gulf Cup semi-finals

The Omanis knew heading into their decisive game with Jorvan Vieira’s table-topping XI that only a win would suffice if they were to overturn a two-point gap to their direct opponents on Thursday night.



By Alex Leach (senior Reporter)

Published: Fri 21 Nov 2014, 7:07 PM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 5:39 PM

Oman's team pose for a photo.- AFP

Oman's team pose for a photo.- AFP

Riyadh: Oman boss Paul Le Guen admitted that even he was taken aback by the manner of his side’s qualification to the Gulf Cup semi-finals after they ran riot against a crestfallen Kuwaiti team.

The Omanis knew heading into their decisive game with Jorvan Vieira’s table-topping XI that only a win would suffice if they were to overturn a two-point gap to their direct opponents on Thursday night.

Proceedings were delicately poised at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Stadium nearing the half-time interval, when Abdulaziz Al Muqbali (44) and Said Salim (45+3) both found the net to put Oman 2-0 ahead at the break.

Things went from bad to worse for Vieira and Co thereafter as Salim (48 & 59) completed his hat-trick before the hour mark and Al Muqbali (90) then rounded off a surprising 5-0 scoreline – even for Le Guen – right at the death.

“I didn’t expect to win 5-0,” the Frenchman, 50, said. “Our goal was to qualify, but I didn’t expect to do so with a result like this one.

“We scored two goals before the end of the first half and I think that killed the game off. It’s not a question of luck and we were just simply – and clearly – the better side in this match.

“We played a great game today (Thursday) and the difference was our efficiency in front of goal. We were playing well beforehand and we’ve achieved a deserved victory.

“I’m very happy for my players and all of the fans of Oman because this is a positive step and we played well, but we must remain calm until the next game.”

Keeping newfound hero Salim’s feet on the ground may prove difficult though given his impressive impact on Oman’s campaign and this regional tournament overall.

His rise to prominence is even more remarkable when you consider he was a very late call-up on the eve of the competition after injuries to the likes of Imad Al Hosni decimated Le Guen’s frontline options.

Meanwhile, Oman’s forthcoming last-four battle on Sunday (Kick-off: 6:45pm) pits Le Guen against a familiar face in Qatar manager Djamel Belmadi, with the two having played together – albeit briefly – in the mid ’90s.

“I played with the Qatar coach many years ago when we were in the same squad at Paris Saint-Germain and it will be a pleasure to play against him,” Le Guen added.

Pleasure beckons then for Le Guen, but no such similar emotions existed in the Kuwait camp after being torn asunder in a traumatic evening of toil and turmoil.

“It was a disaster,” Vieira conceded afterwards. “We didn’t do anything to show that we wanted to win.

“I can only apologise to all of the Kuwaiti fans who expected us to play a good game. This is a very bad day for us and we must accept what has happened. We played badly and lost and Oman deserved to qualify. You can have no excuses after such results. We must face up to such defeats.”

alex@khaleejtimes.com


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