SALALAH — A goal in the dying minutes off the boot of Abdulaziz al Moqbali following a corner, secured Oman senior national team a 1-1 draw in their international friendly match against Egypt at A'Saada Sports Complex on Wednesday night.
Oman who have been training hard for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers under coach Paul le Guen, were overcautious for most part of the first moiety, which ended goalless, but got their bearings thereafter in front of a large and spirited crowd against the ebullient Egyptians who were coming after a quality showing at the London Games.
“It was an excellent crowd, which is important to us,” Oman's French coach Paul le Guen said. “I’m glad we were able to dish out an exciting match for them.”
Against the Fifa's 40th-ranked Egypt, the Sultanate boys, ranked 92nd, opened the game confidently but both sides struggled to sustain possession at various points during the match, and whenever they succeeded, failed to turn it into major scoring chances.
The first half ended barren, but Oman had the best opportunity when they were awarded a penalty kick after an Egypt trip in the area. However Egypt goalkeeper Essam El Hadary, who plays in the Sudan Premier League, was able to deflect Ahmed Mubarak’s try wide.
Egypt broke the deadlock in the 60th minute when Ahmed Hassan Mekky scored connecting a corner kick.
Oman responded well, out-possessing the opponents a couple of occasions and appeared to have got the equaliser in the 82nd minute, but it was waved off because the Sultanate boys were offside.
Then in the last minutes, Al Moqbali got the equaliser for Oman when he fired the ball past El Hadary following a corner kick.
Le Guen described the fan support and the match atmosphere in Salalah as fantastic, and he thanked Oman Air and the OFA’s other official sponsors for their contributions.
Next for Oman is a friendly against Ireland in London on September 11 for which Wigan-based Ali al Habsi is expected to be in the line-up.
Then Oman will host Kuwait on October 11 before resuming World Cup qualifying play with two huge home matches, against Jordan on October 16 and Japan on November 14.