Oman had a fantastic tournament: Verbeek

Oman players applaud their fans’ support after the loss to Iran in Abu Dhabi on Sunday

Oman’s campaign at the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 ended on Sunday with a 0-2 loss to three-time champions Iran in the round-of-16 clash in Abu Dhabi.

Notwithstanding the exit, Oman had made history as it had reached the last-16 stage for the first time in its four attempts.

Having led Oman to its second Gulf Cup title in January 2018 and now to the round-of-16 stage, Oman coach Pim Verbeek, expressed his satisfaction on the Asian Cup journey.

In his remarks after Oman’s exit on Sunday, the Dutch coach said, “We had a fantastic tournament. We should not be ashamed that we lost to a team such as Iran. The team has a future as, even though we are a small country, we have talent. I’m very proud of my players.”

Oman was placed in a tough Group F with four-time champions Japan, experienced Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Oman lost narrowly 1-2 to Uzbekistan in its opener and then 0-1 to Japan before recording a 3-1 win over Turkmenistan to ensure its maiden entry into the knockout stage.

Up against Iran on Sunday, Oman had a golden chance to go ahead as it earned a second-minute penalty but captain Ahmed Mubarak ‘Kanu’ al Mahaijri’s shot was brilliantly saved by Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand.

Despite the Asian Cup exit, Verbeek is still optimistic about the future of his side and admitted that Oman was, on the day, beaten by a better team.

“We knew that Iran was the No 1 side in Asia and that it was stronger than us, so we did everything that was possible to get a result,” he said.

“We gave at least one unlucky goal away and I am not talking about the penalty which we missed early on.

“In the second half, we tried everything to score a goal and come back from 2-0 down, but Iran kept us under control. We are disappointed, of course, that we lost, but Iran was the better team.”

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz praised his boys’ team spirit against Oman. “It was a very good and competitive game, although I think it is the first time in my life that I have seen a team concede a penalty so early on. It was a great save from Beiranvand that kept us in the game,” said the Portuguese.

“When a player performs well [such as Alireza did], it gives you more confidence. The early save undoubtedly helped us maintain our clean sheet, but all the players played their part in the victory.”

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