Oman hopeful of upset

Oman’s French coach Paul Le Guen has challenged his side to build upon their strong recent form with a famous triumph over the Qantas Socceroos.

Oman-s French coach Paul Le Guen has challenged his side to build upon their strong recent form with a famous triumph over the Qantas Socceroos on Tuesday evening.

The Gulf nation are one of Asia-s emerging forces and have posted some impressive results of late, not least those that have contributed to their soild start to the current stage of FIFA World Cup qualification.

In preparation for this game, Oman have posted three straight friendly victories - keeping a clean sheet on each occasion against China PR, Syria and Haiti respectively.

However, said results have occurred in the comfort of the Omani capital - away from home is where Le Guen has called upon his charges to show their best form.

“We hope to do better than a few months ago, it was a difficult game for us here (the 3-0 loss to Australia in the previous stage of FIFA World Cup qualification),” Le Guen said.

“Since (then), we were able to compete with Australia at home but we know that away it-s a little bit different and once again they will be favourites, we will be outsiders, but we will try our best.

“I hope we will be able to compete, they (my players) know the Stadium, the know the opponent and for us it could be useful.

“They (Australia) are supposed to qualify but we want to create a surprise, why not?”

Oman-s preparations for Tuesday-s clash were rocked recently when captain and lynchpin Fawzi Bashir - rated the same caliber of the likes of Samuel Eto-o and George Weah by former Omani coach Claude Le Roy - walked out on Oman-s campaign.

Despite contributing more than 100 caps to the Omani cause, including 30 international goals, Bashir was relegated to the bench by Le Guen in recent internationals and reacted by announcing his retirement from international football.

Therefore, Oman-s standouts in Sydney will likely be captain and talismanic goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi - the only Omani to play in Europe (with Wigan Athletic) and pacey striker Amad Al Hosni, who led club side Al-Ahli to last year-s AFC Champions League Final.

“We know that it-s going to be very difficult for us, especially away from home,” said Al Habsi, who as recently as mid-January crossed paths with counterpart Mark Schwarzer in the English Premier League.

“For us, even for Australia I think, it-s the most important game in the group.

“For us, if we want to continue and to put us in a good position, I think we have to win the game, or draw, at least get some points.

“This time for us, the confidence is more with the players, with the team and we-re looking forward to it.”

The Qantas Socceroos- road to Brazil recommences on Tuesday, 26 March at Sydney-s Stadium Australia with a crucial clash against Oman. Kick off is at 7.30pm AEDT.

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