Fanja braces for Kuwait SC test

A file photo of action from the Asian Cup match between Fanja and Al Jaish at the Seeb Sports Stadium on February 26 (Muscat Daily)

A weary Fanja will take on defending champion Kuwait SC in its second Group B match of the AFC Asian Cup at the Seeb Sports Stadium on Tuesday.

The match kicks off at 7pm.

Fanja coach Hicham Jadrane admitted that his team faced the sternest test as 'Kuwait SC is the strongest side in the group'.

“Kuwait SC are definitely a very strong team. How else could they have won the last two editions of the tournament? It doesn't mean we are any less [capable], though,” Jadrane said at the pre-match press meet on Monday.

Hicham

Fanja coach Hicham Jadrane

“We had plenty of chances in our opening match against Al Jaish of Syria [which Fanja drew 0-0 at the Seeb Sports Stadium on February 26]; we weren't able to convert any of them.

“We have studied the areas where we need to improve, and hopefully, it will show in our match against Kuwait SC tomorrow. Our team is in good form, we are currently leading the Omantel Professional League (OPL) standings.”

Spaniard Jadrane reiterated that his players are struggling to cope with a hectic schedule of matches as they are involved in domestic and AFC Cup competitions. Fanja takes on Kuwait SC five days after it beat Al Nasr 2-1 in the OPL, and will play Saham in the league five days after its Tuesday's clash.

Fanja, the eight-time domestic league champion, will also keep an eye on another title pursuit when it takes on Bausher in the first leg of the His Majesty's Cup semifinal on March 26. Al Nahda will play eight-time winner Dhofar in the other semifinal.

Jadrane said, “As I had mentioned before our first match in the Asian Cup, the players are constantly under a lot of pressure to perform. If they don't get time to rest, how will they be able to perform?”

Kuwait SC is also facing a similar scheduling problem as its Romanian coach Marin Ion claimed. He said, “In future, I hope Kuwait Football Association or the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) will take into consideration and plan the tournaments accordingly.”

Speaking about Fanja, Ion said, “We saw the game they played against Al Jaish and we believe they should have won. Fanja's midfield and attack are very strong, they are technically sound. I believe we and Fanja can both make it to the knockout stage of the Asian Cup.”

Saham faces Al Raed in GCC Club Cup:

Oman's Saham will take on hosts Al Raed in its second Group One game of the 29th GCC Club Cup Championship at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium in Buraidah, Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.

Saham had earlier been held to 1-1 draw by Kuwaiti club Al Jahra at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on February 3.

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