Oman have a date with destiny on 29 February, when they entertain Thailand in their final game in Group D of the AFC qualifying competition for the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
Currently lying third in the section, a point behind Saudi Arabia and with a far inferior goal difference, the Omanis need to win to have any chance of advancing to the final qualification round. In the meantime, they will also be relying on group winners Australia do them a favour by beating the Saudis in Melbourne, a game that takes place at the same time as their showdown with the Thais.
Crucial to Oman’s hopes of success will be frontman Amad Al Hosni, the scorer of their one and only goal in the five games they have played in the pool. FIFA.com spoke to the 27-year-old striker about the must-win match, in which he and his team-mates will be out to avenge the 3-0 defeat they suffered in Bangkok last September, and also asked him about his career to date.
Born to score
Al Hosni, who plays his club football for Al-Ahli in the Saudi Premier League, is a survivor of Oman’s failed attempts to reach Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010. A goalscorer in both of those campaigns, Al Hosni has proved a handful for the Thais in the past, hitting a brace against them in the second of those qualifying competitions and also finding the net in an AFC Asian Cup tie between the two nations in 2004.
That record is one he will hope to improve in a few days’ time. Yet as he acknowledged, it will not be an easy task: “It's a decisive game and a tough one for both teams. The worst thing is that it’s out of our control and that we’ll have to keep a close eye on the result in the other game.”
Things would have been different if we’d got a decent result in our first game against Thailand. That defeat demoralised us.
Modest to a fault, he played down his impressive record against their upcoming opponents: “I scored those goals thanks to the efforts of my team-mates. It would be great to score against Thailand again but the most important thing is to win and get through.”
The Reds have chalked up just one win in the group to date, though it was a notable one, a 1-0 home defeat of the Australians, with Al Hosni scoring the only goal after 18 minutes.
“That goal means a lot to me, especially as it came against a team like Australia and gave us a historic win,” said the proud sharpshooter before turning his attention to his side’s inability to score in their other games: “The strikers haven’t been getting much service and when they have they’ve not been able to put the ball away. All the same we’ll be doing all we can to qualify.”
Looking back on Oman’s campaign to date, he said: “Things would have been different if we’d got a decent result in our first game against Thailand. That defeat demoralised us.”
On his travels
Qualification for the next round would be a career highlight for Al Hosni, who started out with modest Omani outfit Al-Khaburah before joining Saudi side Al-Riyadh, a move he earned thanks to his performances in the qualifiers for the 2004 Asian Cup and the Gulf Cup of Nations that same year, a tournament he top-scored in.
A fine season in the Saudi league led to another move a year later, this time to Qatar SC, where he stayed for three years prior to signing for Al-Rayyan, who moved mountains to make the player theirs after his superb contribution to Oman’s 2009 Gulf Cup win.
Then came an all too brief stay in Europe, with Belgian outfit Charleroi: “It was a fantastic experience even if it only lasted for three months. In Europe they look at what footballers do in a different way. There’s a lot of discipline and a strict training regime, with two sessions a day, all of which helps players to develop.”
Returning briefly to Al-Rayyan, he then joined current employers Al-Ahli of Jeddah, with whom he won last year’s Saudi Champions Cup. And in helping them climb into second place in the Saudi Premier League this season, Al Hosni has scored 13 goals, the latest two of them coming last Monday.
“I’m very happy at Al Ahli,” he explained. “We’re gunning for the league title and if we can keep up our recent form we’ll have a pretty good chance. Hopefully we can keep the pace up right the way through to the end of the season.”
Before then, however, Al Hosni has another crucial mission to perform, one that involves seeing off the Thais in Muscat at the end of the month and then hoping for the best.