Oman burst onto the international beach soccer scene in dramatic style in February when hosting the Asian qualifying tournament for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Ravenna/Italy 2011 in Muscat. With the backing of an enthusiastic home crowd, the homeboys gave the fans plenty to cheer about by claiming second place and a ticket to Italy.
Spearheaded by the inspirational Yahya Al Araimi, who was voted player of the tournament, Oman were the revelations of the Asian competition. While more experienced beach soccer nations such as Bahrain and United Arab Emirates failed to spark, the Omanis’ dreams of continental glory were only ended by Japan in the title decider.
Oman took many observers by surprise when clinching a spot at Ravenna/Italy 2011. Yet buoyed by their success in hosting and coming second in Asian qualifying, they will be hoping to keep the momentum going with at least one win in Group B come September’s elite event.
Yahya Al Araimi, Salim Al Abri, Is’Haq Al Araimi
Wins over Kuwait, Iraq and China ensured that Oman reached the quarter-finals of Asian qualifying as Group A winners, with the hosts going on to sink Syria 5-2 in the last eight. Their passage to Italy was secured by a penalty shoot-out victory in the semi-finals against Iran, which followed a 2-2 draw. The Omanis then took an early lead in the final only for the Japanese to battle back and claim a 2-1 success.
The numbers game
8 - Thanks to eight strikes in six games, Is’Haq Al Araimi was crowned joint-top scorer in the Asian qualifying tournament, alongside Take of Japan.