AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019: Only a win will do for Oman
The mission is crystal-clear for the Red Warriors. Grab the three points at stake against Turkmenistan in the concluding Group F league game of the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 at the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, UAE, on Thursday. The match begins at 5.30pm, Oman time.
With both teams yet to open their accounts and the two direct spots for the last-16 knockout round already secured by Japan and Uzbekistan, Oman's coach Pim Verbeek has his task cut out for Thursday's match.
With the 12 direct berths in the round-of-16 already decided, Oman and Turkmenistan are fighting for the four remaining best third-placed spots.
Speaking on the eve of the match, Verbeek said, “It is a crucial game and we know that there is only one choice - a victory and pick three points.
“The margin of victory is secondary as the primary goal is to secure the three points tomorrow.
“All my players are ready for the match and I have all confidence in them. We have had two good matches against Uzbekistan and Japan.
“Though we lost, the boys played well and I am of the firm belief that they have the potential to earn three points needed to qualify into the next stage.”
Verbeek added, “That doesn’t mean you go with complete risks and just try to score and score and score goals. It will be a tough game, a difficult game because Turkmenistan has the same target.
“They are still in the race also, they have to beat us.
“I think it will be a very interesting game for both teams. We will do everything to make Oman proud.”
Ahead of Thursday's game, Verbeek confirmed that midfielder Mohsin Jawhar will be out of the match.
Like his counterpart, Yazguly Hojageldyyew was giving nothing away when it came to team selection.
“We still haven’t decided which 11 players we will use for the next game, but we have some options,” he said.
“We understand that the Oman team is a very good team, but there’s still a chance for both teams to qualify.
“We understand that the previous game was a bad result and we had some mistakes, but we already made some conclusions, we talked to the team and they are confident for the game.”
Both Oman and Turkmenistan have never managed to advance into knockout rounds in their previous appearances at the AFC Asian Cup
Uzbekistan will take on Japan in the other match to decide the group topper.
After two matches, Uzbeks are on top with better goal-difference than Japan after both teams won two matches each.
Oman is third with minus two goal-difference as compared to Turkmenistan's minus five.
Oman's performances, despite the twin back-to-back defeats, have been praised by even critics with the match against four-time champions Japan, in particular, earning plaudits.
Oman was unlucky to lose by a solitary goal to Samurai Blue as it was denied a strong penalty claim that could have given the Red Warriors a possible equaliser. Earlier, Oman conceded a goal amid another controversial ruling by the Malaysian referee Mohammed Amirul Izwan Yaacob.
The referee adjudged a foul harshly inside the box when TV replays suggested that Oman's Raed Ibrahim had little contact with Genki Haraguchi.
Oman had begun its Asian Cup campaign with a 1-2 loss to Uzbekistan.