A player comparable to Samuel Eto’o and George Weah holds the key to Oman’s chances in Sydney next month, according to former Oman coach Claude Le Roy.
A player comparable to Samuel Eto-o and George Weah holds the key to Oman-s chances in Sydney next month, according to former Oman coach Claude Le Roy.
Le Roy, now in charge of DR Congo after previously holding top jobs at Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana, was at the helm of Oman for three years and rates Omani midfielder Fawzi Bashir as one of the finest players he has coached.
28-year-old Bashir, who plays his club football with UAE outfit Ajman, missed last years reverse FIFA World Cup qualifier against Australia in Muscat through suspension, but is in line to lead Oman-s charge in Sydney.
“I discovered a lot of players in my career, from George Weah to Samuel Eto-o, to (Francois) Omam-Biyik to Andre Ayew, really, Fawzi Bashir is at the level of these players,” Le Roy said.
“Unbelievable player, skillful player, with a huge athletic potential.
“He-s very thin, like the runners of Ethiopia or Kenya, he can run, run, run, hours and hours and in terms of skills, he-s able to dribble on the right and on the left with the same quality, with the same efficiency - a very, very beautiful player.”
Oman-s arsenal isn-t limited to Bashir, however.
In striker Amad Al Hosni - the match winner when Oman defeated the Qantas Socceroos 1-0 in Muscat in 2011 - and Wigan Athletic goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, Oman-s fast improving squad is headlined by two genuine stars of Asian football.
Coupled with some promising recent form, highlighted by this months 2015 AFC Asian Cup qualification win over Syria, Oman have little to fear coming to Australia, where only a victory will properly boost their chances of making it to Brazil, according to their former boss.
“A good result for Oman is not a draw, I think they need to win,” Le Roy said.
“At home, the pressure will be on Australia and they have a lot of experienced players, but not so much as before.
“The World Cup is something magic, Australia, they know it, but Oman do not know
“It would be a huge achievement for this country (Oman) to participate in the World Cup.”
While in charge of Oman, Le Roy led the Red Warriors to battle against the Qantas Socceroos twice, recording a defeat on each occasion.
Both matches were qualification fixtures en route to the 2011 AFC Asian Cup, with Australia posting a 1-0 win in Melbourne before coming from a goal - and a man - down, to win 2-1 in Muscat a month later.
Despite falling twice to the eventual AFC Asian Cup finalists, Le Roy and Oman took confidence away from their clashes with the Qantas Socceroos.
“(The games were) very, very close,” Le Roy said.
“We were ready on a tactical level, a technical level, physical and so on.
“We knew that we were playing a very, very good team with - at the same time - a generation of players all were playing with the best teams in Europe.
“It was a real top team in the world, not only in Asia, or in Europe, but everywhere, it was not easy for any team in the world to play against Australia.”
Le Roy highlights Australia-s attacking weapon Tim Cahill as one of the Qantas Socceroos- greatest threats then - and now - but suggested the green and gold-s somewhat diminished stocks of experience may count against them in Sydney.
Though opting not to predict an outcome to the match, Le Roy is sure his former charges will provide the Qantas Socceroos with a formidable test en route to Brazil.
“I-m sure that Oman, they have a lot of respect for Australia and it-s exactly the same situation on the other side,” said Le Roy.
“They (Australia) know that to play against Oman now, it-s not easy.
“Things have changed a lot in the last ten years, not one other team in Asia likes to play against Oman.”
Click here to buy your tickets to watch the Qantas Socceroos take on Oman.
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