By Sanjay Chakhaiyar -
MUSCAT — With an ideal weather prevailing in the city for yet another day, Al Suwaiq tasted back-to-back victory against Syria’s Al Ittihad Club outclassing them with the same 2-0 margin which they had registered last week at the Seeb Stadium in their Group ‘A’ AFC match, thus boosting their chances of qualifying for the next round of this prestigious tournament.
A goal in each half by midfielder Ablaye Gaye and striker Hamood al Saadi moved the Sultanate’s top club up the table with seven points.
Unlike Al Arouba who squandered home advantage against Uzbekistan’s Neftchi Club at the same venue on Tuesday, Al Suwaiq took full use of their home comforts and went ahead when their foreign recruit from Senegal broke the deadlock in the 21st minute through a powerful shot.
The Sultanate side doubled the margin with 12 minutes to go for the final whistle when substitute Hamood al Sadi — a permanent member of the Oman Olympic team — found the target with a scorching long-range shot.
Al Suwaiq’s goalkeeper Faiz al Rusheidi looked delighted after match.
‘‘It was a difficult game but we played well once again to beat Al Ittihad within a week,’’ said Al Rusheidi, who is a regular member of the Sultanate’s senior team.
During the post-match press conference Al Suwaiq coach Mudhafar Jabar looked quite pleased with the outcome.
“I’m really thankful to all our fans who came in large numbers and supported us throughout,” said the Iraqi.
“They helped us put on such a fine performance. With the way our boys are playing I am sure of reaching the next round,’’ said Jabar.
Jabar was happy that the team played as a unit even though they missed on a few opportunities.
“We missed a few chances but overall I’m very satisfied with the result as it was total team effort,” opined Jabar, when asked as to what was the trick behind such a splendid show.
On the other hand Al Ittihad coach Hussein Afash gave full credit to Suwaiq on their superb victory but in the same tone said that the tie was balanced for most of the part.
“I found the game to be mostly even although Al Suwaiq had the upper hand at times and won as they were better in their counter-attacks,” said Afash.
With two more matches to go, the Al Ittihad coach admitted that they have a difficult task in hand to qualify for the round of 16.
“We are now in the third place but need to improve in our next two matches. I know it will not be easy,” he commented.
u-23 team LEAVE FOR England on Sunday
Meanwhile, a 19-member Oman Olympic (under-23) squad will leave for England on Sunday for their final play-off match against Senegal in Coventry,’’ according an Oman Football Association (OFA) official who will be accompanying the team.
‘‘The boys who have made us proud by winning the three-nation play-off in Vietnamese city of Hanoi last month will thus get enough time to acclimatise to the European conditions,’’ added the official.
The winner of the Oman versus Senegal match scheduled to be held on April 23 will have an entry to the Olympic Games in London from July 27 to August 12.