Bhutan will play Oman the runners up of Group D in AFC Asian cup UAE 2019 qualifier today at the Changlingmithang stadium.
The two are playing for the second time. The match is the first away game against Bhutan for team Oman that registered its biggest win (14-0) on March 28 against Bhutan at home.
While the game result would make no difference in the decisions of the qualifier, the match is expected to be intense with the Oman team having no experience of playing at a higher altitude.
In pre-match press conference yesterday, Oman’s head coach Peter Tim Verbeek, said that his team is aware of how differently Bhutan plays at home. “Bhutan lost 10-0 to Palestine in the away game but it was the only 0-2 defeat at home,” he said. “Moreover in Asia, away games are different. We won 5-0 against the Maldives at home but the result was 1-3 when we played the Maldives in the away game.”
With the total of four games played in the qualifier, Oman is at the second place with nine points. The team lost to Palestine 2-1 in the away game in June. Palestine is leading the group with 12 points.
“We have to understand that playing on 2000 meters above sea level is different from playing at the sea level,” the coach said. “I don’t think that any of my players have the experience of playing at this height. It will be interesting to see how the players deal with this situation.”
Oman’s team Captain Ali Al-Habsi said that the away game was disheartening for Bhutan. “The game will not be easy for us here,” he said.
Coach Pema will lead team Bhutan. At the press conference yesterday, he announced a last minute change in the first eleven players as two players had to be dropped because of injury.
The coach said that preparation was good although it was done for about 18 days. “My focus was on the fitness of the player and over the past few days I focused on the tactics of the team.”
He said that his team would defend for the first 20 minutes and focus on attacking after studying the game situation.
Bhutan’s team Captain Karma Shedrup said that the expectations of the game should be realistic, considering the level of the opponent team. “Each game we play, we want to win but we have to be realistic. We are out of the group but the game is for the home supporters,” he said.
Team Bhutan has not registered a single point in the AFC Asian Cup qualifier. However, the team still has a match left to play against the Maldives in March next year.