OMAN BEATS NIGERIA AT BEACH SOCCER WORLDS
Talib Hilal’s men hold off Nigeria 6-5 in an exciting Group D game to secure three crucial points
It has been four years and 133 days since Oman recorded its first-ever victory at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Espinho, Portugal when it had outplayed Costa Rica 7-2.
On Sunday, Talib Hilalcoached side, making its third appearance in the global showpiece event, celebrated its second-ever triumph in a thrilling 6-5 win over Nigeria at Los Pynandi Stadium in the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion.
Oman's victory in a closelyfought encounter kept its hopes alive to advance from Group D with its next game against fancied Portugal on Tuesday night.
Oman jumped into a two-goal lead thanks to Eid al Farsi’s left-footed, curling pile-driver into the far corner from distance and experienced Jalal al Sinani’s impressive scissor kick.
Sinani, 33, is one of the sultanate stars, who has appeared in Oman’s previous two editions of the FIFA World Cup and has to his credit the country’s first World Cup goal against Argentina during the 2011 Ravenna World Cup in Italy.
Nigeria fought back after trailing 0-2 as Emeka Ogbonna struck a brace to bring the Super Sand Eagles level early in the second period.
However, Oman just had too much firepower for the African runner-up as Mushel al Araimi, Farsi and Sami al Balushi were on target in a span of five minutes to put it 5-2 up at the end of the second period.
Ogbonna added another to complete his hat-trick before
Adams Taiwo scored with a drive into the bottom corner to bring Nigeria back within one.
Oman captain Khalid al Oraimi found a crucial goal in the
28th minute to build a two-goal cushion but Godspower Igudia finished off a well-worked team move to narrow the margin three minutes later.
Oman then held on to finish the game for its second-ever win at the global stage with three crucial points on the board.
It was the second loss for
Nigeria, which eliminates its chances from advancing to the next stage.
In his exclusive remarks to Muscat Daily from Asuncion, a
delighted Talib said, “It is a good win for us after the loss against champion Brazil in the opener.
“With the three points, we now have a chance to qualify into the next round. The victory has raised the morale and spirits of my boys, who displayed great nerves and character to edge Nigeria.”
Talib, who has been with the soccer team since 2008 when Oman won the Asian Beach Games title, is aware of the tough challenge it faces in the group's final match against former World Cup winner Portugal.
It was against Portugal that Oman had suffered one of its biggest defeats when it lost 3-8 during the 2011 World Cup in Ravenna.
Talib said, “We are ready to face Portugal, which is a strong side. It is a difficult match as they are a very experienced team. But my boys will give their best and
we hope for a positive result.”
Portugal boasts of players like Madjer, 42, considered to be a living beach soccer legend, who is competition's all-time leading scorer with 88 goals.
Also in Group D, after defeating Portugal 9-7 in one of the group stage’s most highlyanticipated encounters, Brazil became the third team to qualify for the quarterfinals.
Other results: Group C: UAE 4 Russia 1, Senegal 7 Belarus 2.
“We are ready to face Portugal, which is a strong side. It is a difficult match as they are a very experienced team”
Oman’s Sharif al Balushi in action during the Group D match against Nigeria at the 2019 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Asuncion, Paraguay, on Sunday
Oman coach Talib Hilal (second from left, standing) speaks to his players during the break against Nigeria
Oman goalkeeper Younis al Owaisi celebrates the team’s victory