Oman coach Pim Verbeek believes that his national team can compete with heavyweights of West Asia as they prepare to prove just that at the AFC Asian Cup 2019.
Oman lifted their second Arabian Gulf Cup title earlier this year defeating the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the final — a feat that will boost their confidence heading in to the Asian Cup that they are yet to win, but have been dominated by West Asian countries traditionally.
“It gives confidence to the players, to the selection, not only the first XI but all the players, that we can beat teams, good teams. We’re back at the front in the Gulf and now the next step is to do that at the Asian level,” the 62-year-old Dutch tactician told the-AFC.com.
In the Gulf Cup, Oman finished ahead of Saudi Arabia, UAE and Kuwait in the group stages while also trumping Bahrain in the semifinals. Now, at the Asian Cup kicking off on January 5, they are pitted against Japan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in Group F.
“I like to play Japan — they’re one of the best teams and they play combination football at a very high level and that will be a very interesting game. Uzbekistan are a tough team who are well organised, strong physically and experienced because every time they are in the final 10 teams to try to qualify for the World Cup, so they have more experience that we have,” Verbeek said.
“Turkmenistan is a team that’s a little unknown in Asia and with us, so we knew we would have tough teams to face, whether it’s Iran or Australia or Korea Republic. It’s also not easy to have Qatar or Syria or Jordan in your group. They have good organisation, good preparation and, when you compare with Oman, they have good leagues.”
“But we have to deal with that and that’s why we have a long training camp, to be ready for that first game against Uzbekistan,” the former South Korea and Australia gaffer said.
Oman come into the tournament with an unbeaten streak stretching for almost a year. In fact, they remain unbeaten in the 2018 calendar year.
“We played some good friendly matches against Jordan, Syria and Bahrain, we played Ecuador and we haven’t lost a game. In 2018 we haven’t lost one match and that says enough. We’ve played seven or eight games and we haven’t lost, so we have the confidence,” said the coach.