Talib Hilal, Oman's beach football coach, believes that the upcoming qualifying tournament for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup will be a 'huge challenge' after the sultanate team was drawn with Qatar and Australia in Group A of the Asian qualifiers, to be played in Doha from January 22-26, 2013.
“We have been drawn in a tough group, it is a huge challenge. Qatar is hosting the [qualifying] tournament and it will be very tough to beat them at home,” Talib told Muscat Daily on Friday. “They are a tough side to beat, even outside Qatar. We will have to work really hard if we want to top the group.”
The draw for the qualifiers was held in Doha on Thursday.
A total of 13 Asian countries will take part in the tournament featuring four groups.
Asian champion Japan, Bahrain and Lebanon form Group B, the UAE, Uzbekistan, Palestine and Saudi Arabia make up Group C, while Iran, China and Iraq are in Group D.
The topper from each group will progress to the semifinals. The two finalists and the winner of the third-place playoff will qualify for the Beach Soccer World Cup finals, to be played in Tahiti in September 2013.
Talib said, “Australia is also a strong side, we last played them in 2009 in Dubai in a World Cup qualifier. We had won 4-2, but since then, Australia has improved a lot.”
On Thursday, the 14-member Oman team completed a week-long camp in Muscat and will start another camp after a week's break.
“Our preparations are going on well,” Talib said. “I haven't yet finalised the team for the qualifiers. I will announce it just before we leave for Doha.”