Preview #1 – Oman vs Australia (Group A, Sunday July 8th at Rajamangala National Stadium in Bangkok)…
In the Asian Cup 07, group A is seen as the ‘group of death’. Iraq is a team that on their day, could beat anyone in the tournament. Co-hosts Thailand are going to be absolutely pumped to play at home. Australia is a newcomer to Asian football, but they are the team that went the furthest in last year’s World Cup (being beaten in controversial fashion by Italy, the eventual winner). And Oman is seen as one of the rising stars of Asian Football.
So the games beginning on Saturday July 7th between Thailand & Iraq, and Sunday July 8th between Australia & Oman in Thailand will go a long way towards telling us who is going to be the force from group A.
Oman goes into the match as the underdog, but they are not to be taken lightly. They have a dynamic offense – scoring 14 goals in 6 qualifying matches, and their nets are kept by Ali Al Habsi, the first Omani to play in the English Premiership, and one of Asia’s top keepers. They have a fast attack, supported by an offensive-minded midfield led by Ahmed Mubarak & Badar Al Maimani.
Australia go into the Asian Cup as overwhelming favourites, and their pace & depth should ensure that they get through the first match victorious. Players like captain Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell and Lucas Neill should ensure that Australia maximize the points. Still, in the hot humidity of Bangkok, anything can happen.
Argentinian Coach Gabriel Calderon had this to say: “It is football. Australia has very many good players, but sometimes surprises happen.”
Oman certainly hope so.