His Majesty's Cup final: Dhofar eyes domestic double

Dhofar players pose ahead of the concluding OPL game against Al Shabab in Salalah on Friday

Newly-crowned Omantel Professional League (OPL) champion Dhofar will eye a domestic double when it takes on Al Suwaiq in the summit clash of the prestigious His Majesty's Cup Football Championship at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Thursday.

The match kicks off at 7.15pm.

H E Mohammed al Zubair, the Advisor to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said for Economic Planning Affairs, will preside over the final.

Having won the OPL crown at home against strong contender Al Shabab last Friday, the momentum is with the Salalah powerhouse, which scripted history by claiming the OPL title for a record tenth time, surpassing Fanja's nine titles.

HM-Cup

Dhofar will get another chance to create a record on Thursday as a victory will give Morocco's Molay al Hasan Murad's men its ninth HM's Cup crown, matching the record of maximum nine HM's titles, currently held by Fanja.

Dhofar last achieved a domestic double in 2005 and a win against Suwaiq will also make the club the most successful club in the sultanate with 19 titles comprising HM's Cup and OPL titles.

HM Cup

Fanja (nine OPL, nine HM's Cup) and Dhofar (ten OPL, eight OPL) are tied now with 18 titles each.

Despite Dhofar starting as favourite, Suwaiq's late resurgence in the OPL means that a tough contest is on the cards.

Coached by experienced Hakeem Shaker of Iraq, Suwaiq will be looking for its third title, having won the last title in 2013.

The 54 year old former Iraq coach has a wealth of experience and led the club to a sixth-place finish in the OPL recently.

The performance was mainly due to an excellent show by the club in the second half of the OPL with Shaker taking charge of the club in the last week of October.

suwaiq

A file photo of Al Suwaiq players

Suwaiq just lost one match in its last 11 OPL games and will hope to translate its good form  in the OPL against Dhofar.

Both the teams had contrasting paths to the HM’s Cup final with Suwaiq winning 3-1 (1-0, 2-2) on aggregate against Al Salam in the quarterfinals and Dhofar outplaying Al Khabourah 4-2 ( 3-1, 1-1) on aggregate in the last-eight stage.

In the semifinals, Suwaiq got the better of another former champion Oman 2-1 (0-1, 2-0) on aggregate while Dhofar edged past defending champion Saham 2-1 (2-0, 0-1).

Dhofar began its campaign on a shaky note as it survived a scare against Seeb, winning 4-3 on penalties after a goalless draw in the round of 32.

Suwaiq, on the contrary, sailed past minnow Yanqul 4-0 to set up a last-16 match against Mudhaibi. Suwaiq won 5-2 to advance while Dhofar was dominating in its 3-1 win over Al Hamra to book a spot in the quarterfinals.

Dhofar last won the title in 2012 while Suwaiq took it a year later. The Batinah club first won the crown in 2009 while Dhofar's maiden win came in 1977.

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