Excitement already in the air, says Omani football chief
As the Gulf Cup – the region’s most anticipated tournament – is all set to kick off tomorrow, football fever has gripped Qatar with fans from the eight competing nations eager to watch their heroes in action.
The electric atmosphere in Qatar days ahead of the biennial tournament has impressed the President of Oman Football Association (OFA), Sheikh Salem Al Wahaibi, who said the Qatari capital is abuzz with excitement.
“I can already feel the excitement,” said Al Wahaibi who added coming to Qatar was like ‘reaching his second home’.
“The atmosphere looks great. All this hustle with players, media teams getting ready for the show ….. it’s going to be a great event. I felt the atmosphere from the moment of our arrival,” he said of the November 26 to December 8 event.
Oman, who defeated the UAE in the previous edition’s final, arrived in Doha on Saturday and was given a warm welcome by the fans. “The warm reception we received was no surprise as Qatar is our second home. We always get a lot of support in Qatar and we are very happy to play the Gulf Cup here,” said the OFA president.
Oman will face Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Bahrain in Group B while hosts Qatar, Iraq, UAE, and Yemen will battle in Group A before the event moves to the last-four stage.
“We are very happy that all the countries are participating. Both the groups are balanced and we will see some exciting battle in the first phase, “said Al Wahaibi.
“This is a tournament which every team wants to win and give their best,” he added.
“We will see some thrilling matches as all the teams have good players and are coming well prepared after featuring in the double qualification for FIFA World Cup 2022 and 2023 AFC Asian Cup. The level of competition will be high,” said Al Wahaibi.
Speaking about Oman’s chances of retaining their title, the OFA president said: “Our team is confident of giving a good performance. We are playing good football and got good results in the qualifying matches. Nevertheless, it is a difficult event and the competition will be very tough right from the start.”
Oman will begin its title defense with a match against Bahrain on Wednesday. The ‘Red Warriors’ will take on ten-time champions Kuwait on November 30 in their second game before clashing with Saudi Arabia in their last group match on December 2.
By Fawad Hussain I The Peninsula
Edited By Black Coffee