Seeb inch closer to maiden title

Table-toppers Seeb's unbeaten streak in the 2019-20 Omantel League stretched to 21 games as the hosts held their nearest rivals, Dhofar, to a 1-1 draw at the Seeb Sports Stadium on Saturday night in front of the one of the largest crowds witnessed this season. 

Following the draw, Seeb extended their grip on the top and lead the 14-team standings with 50 points, five more than Dhofar after 23 rounds. With three more rounds to go, which will now be held after April 15, Seeb looks to be in a pole position to clinch their maiden top-flight crown.

With Seeb sharing the spoils with Dhofar on Saturday, they have managed to clear their biggest challenge. Seeb, a three-time His Majesty's Cup winner, extended their unbeaten record to nearly six months, having lost the only game this season to Fanja 1-2 on September 21, 2019. With 14 wins and eight draws, Seeb have been having a dream season under their Portuguese coach, Bruno Pereira Miguel, with the team's fighting spirit the key to their success.

Seeb's remaining games in the league now are against Oman, Muscat and Saham. With the Supreme Committee dealing with the developments on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Oman suspending all sporting and youth activities from Sunday, the game between the top-two teams in the domestic top-flight league attracted a crowd of nearly 8,000 spectators triggering a social media backlash on whether such a mass gathering should have gone ahead or played behind closed doors. On the pitch, Seeb's determination to fight back from a goal down stood out, as the leaders, looking for their maiden league crown, got the equaliser with ten minutes to go.

Defending champion and record 11-time winners Dhofar went ahead in the 39th minute when a goalkeeping blunder from Seeb goalkeeper Ahmed al Rawahi saw an opportunistic Dhofar attacker Omar al Malki slot in the goal in an empty net after Rawahi fumbled with a clearance kick. Down by a goal but egged on from a majority crowd, Seeb's efforts paid dividends when their African import Jibola fired in a pile-driver for the equaliser. Also on Saturday, Oman routed already-relegated Mirbat 3-1 to boost their survival chances while Muscat trounced Sohar 3-0.

Earlier on Friday, relegationthreatened Al Arouba edged Bahla 1-0 to raise their hopes while the battle for the third spot between Al Nahda and Al Nasr stayed tight as both teams played out a 2-2 draw to leave Nahda at third spot with 34 and Al Nasr fourth with 33. Saham was stunned by Rustaq 3-2 while Fanja and Al Suwaiq, a game between former champions, ended in a 2-2 draw. Omantel League standings after 23 rounds: 1 Seeb (50 points), 2 Dhofar (45), 3 Al Nahda (34), 4 Al Nasr (33), 5 Saham (32), 6 Muscat (31), 7 Sohar (31), 8 Rustaq (30), 9 Fanja (30), 10 Suwaiq (29), 11 Bahla (28), 12 Oman (26), 13 Al Arouba (23), 14 Mirbat (12, relegated).

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