FIFA Ranking: 84
Nickname: Al-Ahmar (The Reds)
Last match played: Oman 4-1 Bangladesh (14 November 2019)
Coach: Erwin Koeman
Like India, Oman too have never featured in the World Cup. Their best record in the qualifiers arrived in the 1998 edition when they won four of the six games in Group four but they finished behind Japan who walked away with the sole qualification berth.
After poor form on the international stage before the turn of the millennium, The Reds saw a change in fortune under coach Milan Macala early last decade. They qualified for their first-ever Asia Cup campaign in 2004 and have been consistent on the continental stage ever since.
Oman followed Group stage exits in the 2004, 2007 and 2015 editions with an improved show in 2019 where they qualified to the last-16. They finished as one of the best third-placed sides after finishing behind Uzbekistan and Japan. Oman were then eliminated after a 2-0 defeat to Asian heavyweights Iran.
The Reds have slowly established themselves as one of the strongest sides in the Gulf region, as evidenced by their consistency in the Gulf Cup. They came tantalizingly close to be crowned champions of the eight-team tournament in 2004 under Macala and repeated the feat in 2007 as well.
The persistence paid off after they finally won the trophy in 2009 under French manager Claude Le Roy. Oman later repeated this feat in 2017 under Pim Verbeek after beating UAE 5-4 on penalties in the final. Ahmed Mubarak Kano was adjudged the most valuable player of the tournament.
It’s fair to say that they are currently in one of the best eras in their history and could better it in the years to come.
Oman’s best-ever run in the Asian Cup concluded Verbeek’s three-year stint as the manager. Erwin Koeman was announced as his successor and the team traveled to Kuala Lumpur to participate in the Airmarine Cup as their first assignment under the new coach. The four-team friendly tournament that also featured Singapore, Malaysia and Afghanistan.
The Reds thumped Afghanistan 5-0 before edging Singapore on penalties in the final. The Koeman-era thus started on the front foot with two wins in the opening games.
In the World Cup 2022 qualifiers, Oman have played four matches so far in which they have won three and lost one. They started their campaign with a hard fought 2-1 win over India in Guwahati followed by a thumping 3-0 win against Afghanistan at home. In their last match, they outclassed Bangladesh 4-1.
LESSONS FROM THE PAST
India faced Oman in their first match of the World Cup 2022 qualifiers which they lost 2-1 in Guwahati after taking the lead. The Blue Tigers don’t enjoy a healthy record against The Reds, with their last and only win arriving in 1994. India won the semi-final of the 1994 Independence Cup 4-1 but have heavily suffered against Oman ever since.
WIN % (INDIA)
Erwin Koeman fields his team in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Abdul Aziz leading Oman's attack. All eyes will be on left winger Rabia Alawi Al Mandhar who has already scored four times in four matches for the Oman national side in the World Cup qualifiers. It was Al Mandhar's brilliance that broke a billion India hearts in the first leg in Guwahati.
The Dutch will hope to gain home advantage and try to finish the game as soon as possible considering India's second half track record in the qualifiers so far. All eyes will be on Al Mandhar and Aziz and of course the experienced Ahmed Kano to break the Indian defence.
PLAYERS TO LOOK OUT FOR
Saad 'Suhail' Al Mukhaini: The experienced defender could provide Indian forwards a tough time at the back. The former Al-Nassr full-back is capable of playing anywhere in defence but prefers to function on the right. Saad also gave trials for Premier League giants Arsenal in 2012 but stayed in Oman his entire career.
Ahmed Mubarak 'Kano': Oman’s hero from the 2017 Gulf Cup will be their main man in the centre of the pitch. 34-year-old Kano could help his team win the midfield battles and assume a major advantage in the game. Kano scored a brace in Oman’s 5-1 win over India in the 2006 World Cup qualifiers in Kochi.
Oman squad for World Cup Qualifier
Faiz Al Rushaidi, Ibrahim Al Mukhaini, Mazin Al Kasbi
Mohammed Al Musalami, Ali Al Busaidi, Khalid Al Buraiki, Saad Al Mukhaini 'Suhail', Abdulaziz Al Ghailani, Nadir Awadh, Mohammed Faraj Al Rawahi, Imran Al Hadi
Ahmed Al Kaabi, Moataz Saleh Rabbo, Al Mundhir Al Alawi, Salaah Al Yahyaei, Mohamed Khasib Al Hosni, Yaseen Al Sheyadi, Harib Al Saadi, Raed Ibrahim Saleh, Mohsin Jawhar Al Khaldi, Ahmed Mubarak 'Kano', Mohammed Al Ghafri
Arshad Al Alawi, Mohsin Al Ghassani, Abdul Aziz Al Muqbali, Mohammed Al Ghassani