Oman lifts Morocco Beach Soccer Cup
With just over four months left for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Paraguay, Oman's preparations got a boost as it clinched the competitive four-nation Morocco Beach Soccer Cup in Agadir on Monday.
Oman team, which has been under the tutelage of coach Talib Hilal for more than a decade, qualified for the World Cup in March when it finished third at the AFC Beach Soccer
Championship behind champion Japan and UAE in Pattaya, Thailand. The FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup will be held from November 21- December 1.
Talib will be leading Oman into the World Cup for the third time and the 2015 Asian champion was in a dominating form at the three-day Morocco event.
Oman dethroned hosts Morocco for its second crown at the tournament. Out of its five appearances, since 2010, Talib's men have won twice and ended runners-up on three occasions.
In his exclusive remarks to Muscat Daily, Talib said, “It was a good level of competition and I am happy that we could win the title. This is the second time that we have won the title in Morocco.
“We have been taking part in the event since 2010 and out of five times, we have won twice and ended runners-up thrice (2010, 2012, 2016). Our maiden title came in 2015.”
He added, “The win gives my boys a good boost to our preparations for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Paraguay later this year.”
Oman was impressive in Agadir as it didn’t drop a point to top the group.
Morocco, which won the 2018 edition, claimed second place with a final day win over North African rivals, Algeria, which finished in fourth place.
Oman outplayed the Netherlands 6-3, which claimed third place, in their last match.
Oman wasted no time in asserting its dominance over its Dutch challenger, as Khalid al Oraimi bagged a brace in the opening four minutes, and Eid al Farsi and Sami al Balushi pushed the lead to four by the time the first whistle blew.
Ali Eryuruk and Jenner Koek pulled goals back for Netherland to make it 2-4, but when Khalid completed his hat-trick, the Dutch had a three-goal deficit to cut in the final 12 minutes.
Another goal at either end was enough to wrap the title. Oman's Sami, who scored eight goals overall, was the tournament’s top scorer while his teammate, Amjad al
Hamdani, was adjudged the best goalkeeper.
Earlier, in the second match, Oman trounced Algeria 16-1. Sami claimed seven of the 16 goals as he blasted four in the first 12 minutes. But, it was
Algeria that had taken an initial lead through Sefir.
Going into the second period with the score at 6-1, Oman kept pushing for more, with Mandhar al Araimi, Sharif al Balushi and Nooh al Zadjali all getting their names on the scoresheet, and before the final whistle sounded Oman had hit a massive 16.
Oman began its campaign with a hard-fought 3-2 win over Morocco. Hosts' Nassim Elhadaqui scored a brace while Eid converted a late winner with just two minutes on the clock.
With Paraguay worlds in sight, Oman will be looking to improve upon its previous performances. It made its debut at the worlds in 2011 in Ravenna in Italy. It finished second last in its group, which also contained subsequent semifinalists Portugal and El Salvador.
At Portugal worlds 2015, Oman failed to go beyond the group stage, although it did register its first win (against Costa Rica) and lost narrowly to Italy and Switzerland to finish ninth.
It qualified for Paraguay after a good display at the Asian championship in March. Oman defeated Iraq (5-2) and fancied Iran (4-3) in the group stage. It prevailed against Bahrain in the quarterfinals (5-3), but lost to UAE in the semis 2-3. Oman then showed its mettle in the match for third place by coming from two goals down against Palestine (2-2), and then securing its World Cup ticket with a 2-1 win in the penalty shootout.