Oman hold Australia to 0-0 draw in World Cup qualifier
By staff - Fri Jun 08, 7:07 pm
MUSCAT (Oman): Australia stumbled to a 0-0 draw against Oman in Asian World Cup qualifying on Friday, as both sides struggled to cope with hot and humid conditions in the Gulf country. Australia had the better of the chances in warm conditions at Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex but Oman captain and goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi was immense for the home team.
Socceroos substitute Archie Thompson had three good looks at goal in the final stages of the match but was unable to put the ball in the back of the net.
Oman striker Amad Al Hosni troubled the visiting team’s defence up the other end and forced a sensational save from Schwarzer in the second half.
With the temperature over 40 degrees Celsius (104 F), neither side was able to organize an attack in the first 20 minutes. The heat forced the referee to introduce water breaks twice in the first half.
Australia’s first chance came in the 21st, but Oman goalkeeper Ali al-Habsi saved David Carney’s shot from afar. Carl Valeri tried and failed to overpower al-Habsi 10 minutes later.
In the second half, Oman had its best chance in the 56th when Saad Suhail sprinted down the right flank and sent a cross to Imad al-Hosni. The striker, who had scored the only goal in last November’s win against Australia, volleyed but Aussie shot-stopper Mark Schwarzer came up with a good save.
Australia had several near misses in the final 15 minutes. Alex Brosque had a great chance in the 75th but his weak shot was saved by defender Mohammed Sheeba. Substitute Archie Thompson had several chances in front of the goal, including one with eight minutes to go which was saved by a diving al- Habsi.
“Credit to my boys for coping up well with the conditions,” Australia coach Holger Osieck said. “In such conditions, our players tried to control but Oman challenged us and did a lot of running. We can do this to a point. It is a long journey and we have to play Japan in a matter of four days.”
Paul Le Guen, whose Oman team was coming off a 3-0 drubbing to Japan, said the result was just what his 97th-ranked team needed.
“To get a draw against one of the best teams in Asia after our defeat against Japan is good. I am happy with the way the boys have come back after the Japan loss,” he said. “The players played in a disciplined manner and we had our chances. They gave 100 percent. We did not concede a goal on both the occasions against Australia and it is a credit to the team.”
Australia, along with Japan, South Korea and Iran, are favored to advance to the World Cup. But the second-ranked team in Asia will have to pick up its offense if it wants to reach a third successive World Cup.