Record-chasing Fanja takes on Sur in HM’s Cup final
The town of Fanja on the outskirts of Muscat is all decked up with yellow and black ribbons and huge flags. Cars have been painted with the famed club's colours and merchandise of one of the sultanate's most decorated clubs is on sale in anticipation of a record tenth His Majesty's Cup crown on Thursday night.
Nine-time winners Fanja will be attempting for 'La Decima' (tenth in Spanish) when it locks horns with former champions and Sharqiyah giant, Sur, in the summit clash at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex (SQSC), on Thursday. The match kicks off at 7.15pm.
H E Dr Mohammed al Rumhi, the Minister of Oil and Gas, will be the chief guest and award the coveted trophy.
Sur will be looking for its fourth crown, having won its last title in 2008.
For Fanja, which won its ninth crown in 2014, it will be sort of double celebration if it manages to overcome Sur. A year after Fanja was relegated to the OFA first division, it recently fought its way back and earned promotion into the top-flight Omantel League for the next season.
A force to reckon with in the domestic football, Fanja also has nine league titles to its credit. A record 18 trophies adorn the club’s cabinet and it shares this record with Dhofar Club, which has won ten domestic league titles and eight HM's Cup crowns.
A win on Thursday will give Fanja its 19th overall title, a record number of two of the most important domestic tournaments - HM’s Cup and league.
Sur, on the contrary, is fighting to avoid relegation in the ongoing Omantel League, as it is currently ranked 13th in the 14-team league.
Both the teams were dominant in their semifinal wins. Played over two-legs, Sur advanced to the summit clash with a 6-2 aggregate win over Majees while Fanja reached its 13th final with an aggregate 7-2 win over Mirbat.
Speaking at a press conference on the eve of the final on Wednesday, Haitham al Alawi, the Fanja coach said, “To have reached the final of the most prestigious domestic tournament is in itself an accomplishment. We now want to win it.
“My players had a good training programme to prepare for the big game tomorrow. All the players are in good shape and are looking forward to the final.”
Alawi took over as coach only last month after regular coach Sultan al Touqi was handed national junior team duties.
Fanja captain Salah al Siyabi said, “We are ready and are determined to win the Cup.”
The team also underwent a session of motivational talk ahead of the final and Siyabi said that 'it helped us a lot'.
Sur coach Mohamed Khamis al Araimi said that his team had worked a lot on the 'physical and psychological aspect of the players' after the semifinal win.
“Our recent performances in the Omantel League have been positive as we managed to draw the last three matches. We will fight to our best tomorrow to regain the title,” he said.
Araimi added, “We respect Fanja and we hope that the game is worthy of a final.”
Sur player Al Moatassim al Mukhaini, who was at the press meet predicted a close game.
In his remarks to Muscat Daily ahead of the final, Hamyar al Ismaili, the Fanja Club chairman, said, “The team has prepared well and the board of the club and the fans have high hopes from the squad.
“We have returned to the top-flight league after an year's absence and it will be a double delight with the title win on Thursday. It will be an icing on the cake for Al Malik [The king as the club is popularly known as].”