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03rd Sep 2014

Oman – what do we know about tonight’s opponents?

Ireland take on Oman tonight in the Aviva and we turn our focus on to our opponents to hopefully shed some light on a bit of an unknown force.

Eric Lalor

What’s the skinny on Ireland’s opponents?

Oman has a similar population size to Ireland, they border countries such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE. In footballing terms they were once the whipping boys of Asian football, but since the mid-90s they have got stronger and more successful.

2015 AFC Asian Cup Draw

They are currently managed by Frenchman Paul Le Guen, who guided to Lyon three successive championship wins from 2002-2005.

He had a disastrous spell as manager for Glasgow Rangers which ended after four months and he then went on to manager PSG and Cameroon before taking over the reins as Oman boss in 2011.

He has helped them qualify for the Asian Cup in 2015 in Australia for only the third time in their history, but they have been drawn in a difficult group featuring the host nation, South Korea and Kuwait.

Manchester City v Wigan Athletic - FA Cup Final

On the playing side, the most notable player and one most familiar with Irish fans is their goalkeeper, Ali Al-Habsi (pic above) from Wigan Athletic. He’s been consistently good for Wigan over the years and is the only squad member playing football outside of Oman.

Their results this year have been decent, but you do have to take in the calibre of the opposition.

They have only lost one of seven matches in 2014 and that against French club side Guingamp. Perhaps the most notable result was back in January when they managed a 0-0 draw with Finland. Their last match was last month against French side Stade Brest and they won that one 2-1.

Realistically, Ireland should win, but under the watchful eye of Paul Le Guen, Oman will be no pushover.