Oman boss Pim Verbeek has urged his team to score “as many as possible” against Turkmenistan as they desperately bid to qualify for the 2019 Asian Cup knockout phase as one of the four best third-placed finishers.
Verbeek’s men head into their final Group F outing having lost their first two games, however their goal difference is only minus 2, meaning they stand a good chance of progressing if they manage to beat Turkmenistan.
Their opponents find themselves in a similar situation, though they go into Thursday’s game with a goal difference of minus five after getting hammered 4-0 by Uzbekistan last time out.
The opportunity to qualify despite losing two games is not one Verbeek wants to pass up, and he is putting the pressure on his men to go out and get goals.
“We have to win,” the Dutchman told reporters. “We know [negative] one goal difference might be enough. We will do everything to score as many as possible. We have 90 minutes, but it will be better to score early.
“All the players are ready. We have no red cards or injuries. We have to make all efforts to make it a good game. We cannot commit mistakes. We have to keep a clean sheet.”
Considering the state of the group, Verbeek is fully expecting Turkmenistan to come out ready for a scrap.
The Uzbekistan defeat will have been poor for morale and, as such, it leaves them effectively needing to trounce Oman to stand any chance of qualification.
Verbeek felt Turkmenistan actually put in a good display against Uzbekistan, but he is confident in his plan.
“Turkmenistan competed well against Uzbekistan and they will come hard at us,” he added. “They were unlucky in the first half as Uzbekistan scored four goals. We have a plan and strategy, but everyone will have to wait till the game to see that.”
Turkmenistan boss Yazguly Hojageldyyew said: “We understand that the Oman team is a very good team, but there’s still a chance for both teams to qualify. We understand that the previous game was a bad result and we had some mistakes, but we already made some conclusions, we talked to the team and they are confident.”
FULL-TIME: Turkmenistan 0-4 Uzbekistan
— #AsianCup2019 (@afcasiancup) January 13, 2019
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Oman – Muhsen Al Ghassani
While Saad Al Mukhaini has been Oman’s best player so far in this tournament at right-back, Muhsen Al Ghassani was a real livewire off the bench in their 2-1 defeat to Uzbekistan. The attacker – who scored Oman’s goal – was involved in almost everything they could muster in the final third, and given the need for a win he will need to deliver a big performance if selected.
Turkmenistan – Mamed Orazmuhamedov
For Turkmenistan to stand even the slightest chance of defying the odds and qualifying, they cannot afford to let any goals in. Therefore, goalkeeper Mamed Orazmuhamedov’s performance will be absolutely vital. If he fails to turn up, the rest of the team will not have a hope.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– This will be the first encounter at the Asian Cup between Oman and Turkmenistan.
– Oman have won just one of their last eight group stage matches in the Asian Cup (1-0 against Kuwait in January 2015).
– Oman have taken 24 shots at goal in the 2019 edition of the Asian Cup, scoring just one goal, giving an accuracy rate of 4.2 per cent.
– Turkmenistan conceded four goals against Uzbekistan in their last match, more goals than they have ever conceded in a single game at the Asian Cup.
– Turkmenistan are yet to claim a win at the Asian Cup after five matches in the competition, drawing their debut match at the finals, before losing four in a row.
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