Oman aim to break group stages hoodoo
Captain Ahmed Mubarak is confident of a good show.
Sharjah - Captain Mubarak said the team would draw inspiration from their Gulf Cup triumph
By Rituraj Borkakoty
Published: Tue 8 Jan 2019, 9:25 PM
Last updated: Tue 8 Jan 2019, 11:31 PM
Having never gone past the groups stages in their previous attempts at the Asian Cup, Oman have a tough task on hand when they open their Group F campaign against Uzbekistan at the Sharjah Stadium on Wednesday.
It's a group that also have Asian giants Japan, so Oman will be desperate to get off to a positive start when they lock horns with the tricky Uzbeks.
Despite the absence of their injured goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, their former Premier League star, captain Ahmed Mubarak remains confident of breaking their group stages hoodoo.
"Yes, we are in a difficult group. But, you know, we have a responsibility to do well for our country. We have the confidence in our game to hurt our opponents," the 33-year-old midfielder told reporters at the pre-match press conference.
"We have been preparing for this tournament for a long time. But yes, we start with Uzbekistan. It's a tough team. But we are ready and we are focused. The morale of the team is very high.
"We are confident of our chances. We know we can play a very good game of football."
Mubarak said the team would certainly draw inspiration from their memorable Gulf Cup triumph.
"The Gulf Cup win has given us great momentum, confidence and courage. But, you know, the Asian Cup is a much bigger tournament with so many strong teams. We are prepared to put up a fight in every game," he said.
Oman coach Peter Verbeek, on the other hand, is bullish about his team's chances in a difficult group.
"We will give everything to win. We play three games in the group stages and our target is nine points," Verbeek said.
"We are here to try to win all three games. It's the mentality of the team and that's what the Omani fans are expecting from us."
The former Australia coach admitted, though, that his team can't afford to take even Turkmenistan - the fourth team in the group-lightly.
"Japan, Uzbekistan are tough teams. I don't know much about Turkmenistan but the other games in the Asian Cup have showed that there are no easy games any more in international football," he said.
"But the team that I will pick tomorrow is capable of winning games. We know it's going to be a difficult game. So we are prepared for a very tough game tomorrow. I am sure we have to be at our best. I have the confidence that we can compete tomorrow."