Al Habsi, Raed, Al Muqbali back in Oman team ahead of Jordan friendly
Oman will be playing the Jordan friendly, scheduled for October 4 in Dubai, as part of the preparations for their next Asian Cup away qualifier against Maldives
MUSCAT: Talismanic custodian Ali Al Habsi as well as mercurial midfielder Raed Ibrahim and star striker Abdulaziz Al Muqbali return to Oman team as Pim Verbeek named a 26-member Sultanate squad ahead of their friendly match against Jordan.
Oman will be playing the Jordan friendly, scheduled for October 4 in Dubai, as part of the preparations for their next Asian Cup away qualifier against Maldives on October 10.
While legend Ali Al Habsi, who now plays for Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal, had requested not be included in Oman’s previous match against Maldives, Verbeek had not picked Raed Ibrahim and star striker Abdulaziz Al Muqbali for the same game, which Oman went on to win by a 5-0 margin at home.
All three star players are now included in the list of 26 players announced by Verbeek on Wednesday.
Also making a return to the team after a hiatus is attacking midfielder Mohammed Ali Al Siyabi.
Speaking about Al Shabab star player, whose excellent performances have been highlighted by two goals in four-week old Omantel League, Verbeek said: “Mohammed Ali Al Siyabi has been very impressive so far this season. He has forced his way into the team with his performances.”
Salah out with injury
The Dutchman, meanwhile, expressed disappointment over noninclusion of striker Salah Said Al Yahyaei owing to an injury.
“Salah is injured. He needs at least four weeks to recover. It is very disappointing. He is a very important player for us. The team will miss him,” Verbeek said of the player who scored one of Oman’s five unanswered goals in their crucial Group D qualifier against Maldives early this month.
Also missing from the list is forward Said Al Ruzaiqi, another player out with an injury.
“Said Al Ruzaiqi is has shown good level of football in the recent times. I hope he recovers at the earliest and returns to the team,” Verbeek said.
After the Jordan friendly, the team will be pruned to 23 players before they travel to Maldives for the Asian Cup qualifier.
“Jordan match will help us as- sess the players and see the readiness of the team as a whole. The Maldives match is not going to be easy as we will be playing away in Mali,” he said.
Oman, with six points from three matches, are currently in second place in Group D behind Palestine who have collected a maximum of nine points from three outings.
After Maldives match, Oman play another away match against Bhutan on November 14 before completing their group engagements at home with a match against Palestine on March 27 in 2018. The top two teams from the group qualify for the Asian Cup to be hosted in the UAE in 2019.
Pim Verbeek, meanwhile, said the hectic domestic league schedule is affecting the players.
“There is a game very three days. Its very hectic. Such scheduling takes a toll on the players, their fitness and their performances.
“Ultimately it affects the club and the national team as well. Even the league will suffer,” he added.
Speaking about his plans for the team, he said: “When I signed my contract with Oman Football Association, I had two goals: to lead the team to the finals of 2019 Asian Cup in the UAE and to help the team reach advanced placed in the Gulf Cup. I am currently working on these two goals and the rest will come later,” he said.
Asked about the Gulf Cup draw, which saw Oman placed in Group B along with Saudi Arabia and the UAE, he said: “It is great to play with the two best teams of the Gulf region and we have seen how they performed in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. We are looking forward to play them in the Gulf Cup.”
TOO HETCTIC: Oman’s Dutch coach Pim Verbeek, while announcing the team for Jordan friendly, expressed his displeasure at the hectic schedule of Omantel League matches.