Saudi Arabia today faces Oman at Sultan Qaboos Sports Stadium in Muscat hoping to maintain a perfect start to the third and final round of Asian qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup final in Qatar.
The team’s French coach Herve Renard is expected to stick with the team that beat Vietnam 3-1 in the first matchday of Group B on Thursday, with the exception of Abdullah Otayf, who was injured and had to be substituted after only 18 minutes of the match in Riyadh.
Another win will give the Green Falcons a maximum of six points and ensure at least a share of the lead of Group B ahead of the resumption of qualifiers next month, when they face Japan (Oct. 7) and China (Oct. 12)
The two teams have met 21 times, with Saudi Arabia winning 15, Oman four, and two matches ending in a draw.
While Saudi Arabia under normal circumstances would be favorites to win even away from home, Oman’s extraordinary 1-0 away win against Japan has significantly changed perceptions, and Renard and his players will be well aware that the three points are anything but there for the taking.
Renard will be confident, however, as he can still call on his big names, such as captain Salman Al-Faraj and the dangerous Salem Al-Dossari, while Yasser Al-Shahrani and Sultan Al-Ghanam should keep Oman’s defenders occupied down the flanks.
Oman’s Croatian coach Branko Ivankovic is no stranger to Saudi football, having taken charge of Al-Ittifaq and Al-Ahli previously, and he will be hoping the home advantage will play its part.
With Thursday’s historic behind them, and with the Omani Football Federation’s decision to allow 30 percent capacity at Sultan Qaboos Sports stadium, the home team will be confident of causing another major upset.