OPL to start on August 21

Saleh al Farsi (left), OFA vice-chairman, presents H E Sheikh Abdullah al Mukhaini, Al Arouba Club chief, with the OPL winner’s prize of RO50,000

National team coach Paul Le Guen's call for an early start to the domestic football season seems to have fallen on deaf ears as the Oman Football Association (OFA) revealed on Monday that the new season would begin no sooner than in mid-August.

The traditional season-opening Super Cup is set to kick off the 2015-16 calendar on August 15.

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Sheikh Rashad (left) presents an award to an Oman Air official

The Omantel Professional League (OPL) will start on August 21, while the Mazda Professional Cup will begin on September 1. The His Majesty's Cup qualifiers are expected to start on October 1.

Although the OPL schedule is yet to be announced, Muscat Daily has learned through sources in the OFA that the organisers of the OPL had to settle for a late-August beginning because some of the clubs didn't want an early start.

With Oman scheduled to play back-to-back FIFA World Cup qualifiers on September 3 and 8 against Turkmenistan and Guam in Muscat, respectively, Le Guen had sought an early start in order to help the players get match-fit in time following the season break and the Holy month of Ramadan.

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Sultan al Zadjali (left) with Mohammed al Houweidi

Sheikh Shabib al Hosni, the CEO of the OPL, told Muscat Daily, “We had discussions with the clubs and we will start the season in mid-August. We will soon release the domestic calendar. The players' registration will be open from July 5- September 24.”

Meanwhile, Sultan al Zadjali, the OFA's general secretary and the CEO, said Oman's request to move the September 8 game in Guam to Muscat was accepted by the FIFA and Guam football officials. The move spared the Omani players the possibility of a lengthy, 20-hour flight following their September 3 home game against Turkmenistan.

Muscat Daily wins award

Muscat Daily was named the best English newspaper

Muscat Daily was named the best English newspaper by the Oman Football Association (OFA) for the 2014-15 season at its awards ceremony on Monday. The recognition follows the daily's coverage of football and the OFA's activities. Ahmed al Habsi, an OFA board member, presented the award to Ashok Purohit, sports editor of Muscat Daily (Ahmed al Saadi/Muscat Daily)

Arouba’s Farsi is best OPL player

Al Arouba, which won the OPL and the HM's Cup titles, dominated the OFA Awards ceremony for the 2014-15 season, which was held at the Prince Palace Hall in Al Hail on Monday.

Arouba's Eid al Farsi, who is also an attacking midfielder with the national team, was named the best player of the OPL while the club coach, Philippe Burle of France, was declared the best coach of the season and the club's Riyadh Subeit was named the best goalkeeper.

All three individual winners, however, were not present to receive the awards. Farsi and Subeit are in Bengaluru, India with the Oman team for Thursday's World Cup qualifier, while Burle has moved to Doha, having joined a Qatari club.

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Representatives of Towell Auto Centre, Mazda car dealers in Oman, with H E Sheikh Rashad al Hinai (left)

H E Sheikh Rashad al Hinai, the Undersecretary at the Ministry of Sports Affairs, was the chief guest and presented the awards, along with Sayyid Khalid al Busaidy, the OFA chairman, and other OFA officials. H E Sheikh Abdullah al Mukhaini, the chairman of Al Arouba Club, received a cheque of RO50,000 for the OPL title win. Runner-up Fanja and third-placed Sur received RO30,000 and RO20,000, respectively.

During the ceremony, the OFA also honoured the best first and second-division clubs, various age-group league champions, referees, sponsors, partners, various government and private organisations and the media for their support.

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Abdulrahim al Hajri (right) receives the award from Sayyid Khalid

The OFA honoured its long-serving staff as well, which included current Fanja coach Abdulrahim al Hajri.

List of awardees: OPL: Fair play award: Suwaiq; top-scorer: Kofi Meshal (Al Nasr); most promising player: Mohammed Mubarak (Sur); best manager: Hussain al Mustahail (Al Nasr).

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Sheikh Shabib al Hosni

Mazda Professional Cup: Champion: Fanja; best player: Mohammed al Hinai (Fanja).

First-Division League: 1 Muscat (RO15,000); 2 Salalah (RO10,000); 3 Rustaq (RO7,000); Fair play award: Muscat; best player: Viniso (Muscat); top-scorer: Imo Philip (Salalah); best keeper: Mohammed al Houweidi (Muscat); best coach: Mohammed Hawali (Muscat); best manager: Hamdan Bait Said (Salalah).

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