Oman were late starters when it came to FIFA World Cup™ qualifying campaigns, their first bid in 1990 ending with the side coming last in their group behind Qatar, Iraq and Jordan. In 2002 they had another opportunity, this time making it through to the final round of the Asian qualifiers, where they struggled in a tough section that included continental heavyweights Japan.
The current crop
A promising new generation of Oman players had their first outing on the world stage at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Ecuador 1995 and came of age during the qualifiers for Japan/Korea 2002 and the 2004 AFC Asian Cup in China. The same side took the runners-up spot in the 2004 Gulf Cup of Nations, a tournament they would win as hosts in 2009. Missing out on a place at the 2011 AFC Asian Cup finals was a blow, but Oman have opened brightly in Asia’s qualifying campaign for Brazil 2014, eliminating Myanmar 4-0 on aggregate to reach the third phase.
The key players
The Oman team sheet contains a number of outstanding talents, the most promising of which is goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, who attained genuine star status during stints with English clubs Bolton Wanderers and Wigan Athletic. Strikers Imad Al Hosni and Badr Al Maimani as well as midfielders Fawzi Bashir and Ismail Al Ajmi should be the main players to watch in the upcoming preliminary competition.
Coach: Paul Le Guen
Best performance in a FIFA competition: FIFA U-17 World Cup Ecuador 1995 (Fourth place)
Former stars: Ghulam Khamis, Yousuf Obaid, Hani Al Dhabit