Fourth Islamic Solidarity Games: Omani shooters disappoint

Omani shooters train at the indoor range ahead of the competition at the Islamic Solidarity Games in Baku, Azerbaijan

A day after a spectacular opening ceremony launched the fourth Islamic Solidarity Games (ISG) in Baku, Azerbaijan on Friday, there was disappointment for Oman as its shooters failed to get anywhere near the podium.

Oman, which is participating in five disciplines - football, taekwondo, shooting, athletics and tennis - has so far had a mixed bag at the multi-sport Games, which began with the football competition on May 8.

It was a disappointing Saturday in shooting as Oman's trio of Mohammed al Hajri, Abdullah al Habsi and Issam al Balushi failed to cross the first hurdle in the men's 10m air rifle qualification round.

And in the 25m centre fire pistol event, Said al Hashmi finished tenth with a total of 561 among 17 shooters, which was won by the host nation's Ruslan Lunev with a combined score of 581. The other two Omani participants - Mohammed al Gheilani (546) and Hilal al Khatri (272, did not finish) came 14th and 17th respectively.

Siham al Hasani finished last in the women's 10m air rifle final round after qualifying as the eighth best in the first round among 23 shooters. Amina al Tarshi missed a spot in the final round as she came ninth.

A total of 14 shooters are participating from Oman, including four women. Besides Siham and Amina, the other two are Wadha al Balushi, who took part in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil last year, and Sahir al Jahmani.

Azzani hopes to carry on the momentum

The national football team, comprising the Olympic squad and coached by Hamad al Azzani, has impressed in the two matches it has played so far in Group B.

Azzani is expecting his side to build on its thrilling 3-2 win over Turkey after his boys wiped out a two-goal deficit on Thursday to have the last laugh.

"The second half of the game was very good for us. We will look to build on that for the following matches," Azzani said. "We will prepare for the next game for two days. We must focus on the next game against Algeria. We don't want to lose our way, we want to continue like today."

Turkey, though, is out of the tournament after suffering consecutive losses and will be left to rue missed opportunities in the game against Oman, including a penalty early in the second half when it was leading 2-0.

"It was great for us to be involved in this tournament. The team that came with us was very young," said Turkey coach Nedim Yigit.

Azzani's team had also come from behind twice to draw its opener with Palestine on Monday.

Oman takes on table-topper Algeria on Monday to decide the group winner, with the top two teams advancing to the semifinals. A win or a draw for Azzani's boys will ensure the team a spot in the last-four stage.  

Spectacular opening ceremony on Friday

Earlier on Friday, the Games were officially opened by Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev at the Baku Olympic Stadium.

The show expectedly followed a theme of togetherness in the Islamic world, as the 40-day long 'journey from the Caspian' came to its conclusion.

All the teams were led out by women carrying water collected from around Azerbaijan, which formed a large fountain when poured into a bowl.

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