Verbeek’s Oman no easy rival for Team Melli

TEHRAN, Jan. 19 (MNA) – Iran and Oman will lock horns at 2019 AFC Asian Cup round of 16 on Sunday, a match which is by no means ‘easy’ for Team Melli.

The Persians advanced to the knockout stage of the tournament as Group D leaders with 7 points. The team first hammered Yemen 5-0, then gained a 2-0 victory over Vietnam before having a 0-0 draw with traditional rivals, Iraq, in a tight game.

Carlos Queiroz’ team tries to end the 43 years the Asian title drought and in this route, they are going to face Oman, called the Reds, in the first step.

Oman secured a historic first appearance in the knockout stages of the AFC Asian Cup 2019 after gaining a 3-1 win over Turkmenistan at the Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium Stadium on Thursday. The victory placed the Reds above Vietnam in the table of the best third-placed teams and secured their berth in the round of 16.

Oman started the tournament with a match against Uzbekistan. Although one goal behind, the Reds managed to level the game in the 72nd minute. But just 5 minutes to go, Uzbekistan found the net and left Oman with zero points from the opener.

Pim Verbeek’s team then took on four-time Asian Cup winners, Japan. The Blue Samurai hardly won the game 1-0 with a controversial penalty in the 28th minute. Just before the second half whistle, referee turned down a penalty call for Oman as the ball touched the hands of a Japanese defender. The Reds just went toe to toe with the Blue Samurai throughout the match.

The last time that Team Melli faced a team managed by Pim Verbeek in AFC Asian Cup goes back to the 2007 edition. The Dutch coach then managed South Korea and faced the Persians in the quarterfinals. Taegeuk Warriors won that encounter in penalty shootouts, eliminating Iran from the tournament.

South Korea's head coach Verbeek (L) and assistant Afshin Ghotbi (R) in 2007 

Pim Verbeek has formed a firm and hardworking team out of Oman which can challenge any Asian team.

Iran and Oman have locked horns 12 times in history and the results were 6 wins for Team Melli, 2 wins for the Reds and 4 draws. Iran has scored 24 goals in these encounters while conceding 15.

The last match between the two west Asian teams goes back to 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification where Iran secured a 2-0 victory with Sardar Azmoun’s double at Tehran’s Azadi Stadium in late March 2016.

Sardar thanks God after scoring his second goal in the match against Oman in 2016

The Reds once proved their quality to Queiroz in May 2014 when they managed to win Team Melli 3-1 in a friendly match at Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex, Muscat.

The two teams have just once encountered in AFC Asian Cup which happened in the group stage of the 2004 edition. Iran hardly leveled the match 2-2 in the added time of the second half. The draw paved the way for Team Melli, then managed by Branko Ivankovic, to secure a place in the knockout stage.

Team Melli’s performance in the group stage matches has raised hopes for winning the 2019 Asian title and ending this 43-year drought. The team enjoys professional players, which are referred to as a ‘golden generation’, and masterful coaches. Also, thousands of Iranian fans are there in the United Arab Emirates to cheer for the team.

The Reds have proved to be a tough opponent and for sure, Team Melli will not have an easy task on Sunday’s match at 9:00 PM local time at Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium.

MAH

News Code 141667

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