WORLD CUP QUALIFIERS: OMAN FACES TURKMENISTAN

Oman, coached by Paul Le Guen, faces a tricky challenge when it takes on hosts Turkmenistan in a Group D match of the joint 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup qualifier in Ashgabat on Tuesday.

The match kicks off at 5pm, Oman time.

Oman is currently in joint lead with Iran with 11 points each, though the latter leads on goal-difference.

The Red Warriors will be wary of the Central Asian team, which will look to maintain its undefeated home record.

Turkmenistan is third in the standings with seven points, though it has played six matches as compared to Oman and Iran’s five.

Guam, too, has seven points from six games, while India is at the bottom of the group with three points from six matches.

Oman, which had won its home game against Turkmenistan 3-1 at the Seeb Sports Stadium in September, will play its third away game in the group.

It beat India 2-1 in Bengaluru in June, but was held to a goalless draw at lesser-ranked Guam in September.

Speaking ahead of the team’s departure, Le Guen had stressed that it was crucial to collect three points in Ashgabat to stay in the race for advancing to the next stage.

The team will have to tackle cold conditions and flew in on Friday to acclimatise with the Ashgabat weather. It played a friendly game against New Zealand in Muscat as part of its build-up for the match.

Though, Oman lost 0-1 to the All Whites, coach Le Guen was satisfied with the warm-up outing with his core players getting a good test.

In other match-ups, Jordan, China and Singapore play their return games with Kyrgyzstan, Hong Kong and Syria, respectively.

Also in action are the top-and-bottom clashes with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Japan and South Korea all expecting to record comfortable wins against Timor-Leste, Bhutan, Cambodia and Laos, respectively.

As the campaign serves as the qualifier for the Asian Cup, no teams have been eliminated yet, according to the tournament format, with even pointless Bhutan, Cambodia and Chinese Taipei harbouring hopes of earning at least a place in the playoff round of the Asian Cup qualification.

SOURCE: MUSCAT DAILY