Oman ready to cause more shocks in Asian Cup adventure

Oman beat Turkmenistan 3-1 to make the knockout stages. (AFP)
Updated 18 January 2019
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Oman ready to cause more shocks in Asian Cup adventure

  • Pim Verbeek confident Oman can beat Iran in second round.
  • The Reds scraped through to the knockout stages after a 3-1 win over Turkmenistan.

LONDON: Oman may be viewed as one of the minnows but Pim Verbeek has warned the Asian Cup big guns to take them lightly at their peril.
The Reds scraped into the second round thanks to an inspired 3-1 victory over Turkmenistan. That gave them their the first points of the tournament and enabled them to squeeze into the knockout stages as one of the four best third-placed teams.
Before their victory over Turkmenistan Oman had lost 2-1 and 1-0 to Uzbekistan and Japan respectively in their earlier Group F matches. But Verbeek claimed Oman were well worth their place in the business end of the tournament.
“We had a good 2018 and we expected to do well in the Asian Cup. We were unlucky to lose to 
Uzbekistan while we held our own against Japan, who are a very, very good side,” the Dutch coach said.
Having made it to the knockout stages Verbeek is confident his side has what it takes to progress deep in the tournament.
The Gulf outfit will have to be at their very best on Sunday when they face tournament favorites Iran in Abu Dhabi. But Verbeek is only too aware of where his side need to improve ahead of the crunch clash and has backed them to continue the shocks.
“We conceded to Turkmenistan because we lost a little bit of concentration. It was the same against Uzbekistan and this is something that my players must overcome,” the coach said.
“Our dream was to go into the next round and we have achieved that. Now it is all or nothing matches and anything is possible.”


Algeria ready for ‘match of a lifetime’ — Guedioura

Updated 19 July 2019
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Algeria ready for ‘match of a lifetime’ — Guedioura

  • The Cup of Nations showpiece marks the climax not only of Algeria’s campaign on the field, but of their fans’ recent political campaign in the stands

CAIRO: Algeria midfielder Adlene Guedioura says Friday’s Africa Cup of Nations final against Senegal represents the “match of a lifetime” as his country bids to capture the title for a second time.

The Desert Foxes lifted their lone trophy on home soil in 1990 but coach Djamel Belmadi has reinvigorated a team that crashed out in the group stage two years ago and then flopped in World Cup qualifying.

“I think it’s the match of a lifetime for a lot of players in the team and for Algeria,” said Guedioura, who at 33 is the oldest member of the squad.

The Nottingham Forest journeyman has started five of six games in Egypt and insisted much of the credit for Algeria’s eye-catching performances must go to former national team midfielder Belmadi.

“He really knows the players and what he wants. The good thing is he knows how to get through to the players and how to listen,” said the 48-time international.

“If you don’t have a good cook you can’t have a good recipe. With that we realize we can be all together and it’s important to be a team.

“It’s important for Algeria because we used to have good individuals and now we feel very strong as a team and we want to achieve as a team.”

A Youcef Belaili goal earned Algeria a 1-0 victory over Senegal in the group stage, but Belmadi was quick to point out the statistics were heavily weighted in their opponents’ favor.

“Of course we can lose this match. We have an opponent that is number one in the FIFA rankings for Africa. They were at the World Cup. We were eliminated in the first round in 2017,” said Belmadi.

“If you get to the final, the aim is obviously to win it. The game in the group stage wasn’t decisive but now it is and that’s the difference.”

He added: “The most important is to stay concentrated and determined yet calm at the same time.”

Algeria will have the backing of an additional 4,800 fans for the final.

Some of them will arrive in Cairo on military planes organized by Prime Minister Noureddine Bedoui.

The Cup of Nations showpiece marks the climax not only of Algeria’s campaign on the field, but of their fans’ recent political campaign in the stands.

In April, long-standing president Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned after weekly Friday protests against his expected candidacy for elections, and football fans have been heavily involved in demonstrations.

“We know what’s happening. The people we represent have been wonderful,” said Guedioura

“It’s magnificent what is happening. We’re focused on football but we want to win the final for the people,” he added.