The Gulf Cup holders Oman are aiming to break into the world's top 50 national teams with what they believe is a promising group of young players emerging through the ranks. And Sayyid Khalid, the president of the Oman Football Association, thinks showpiece games such as an forthcoming friendly with Brazil will inspire the youth of the country to improve on the standards they are currently setting.
Speaking ahead of an Asian Cup qualifier with Australia on November 14, which is followed by the game against the South American stars three days later, he was not shy when outlining the ambitions of the Oman FA. "In this country we have three million people and most of them are under the age of 17. They are showing potential and shows what we are doing with the youth system," said Khalid. We are 79th [in Fifa's world rankings] but we can get into the top 50."
The clash with Australia follows on from a 1-0 loss in Melbourne two weeks ago and Khalid hopes Oman will be more attacking after adopting a fairly defensive approach in the away contest. "Oman will play this match with a different mindset, we are determined to just win it. This is a very important match. We played a very good game away and were unlucky to lose." Victory in Muscat would take Oman top of their group, which includes Kuwait and Indonesia, and would be a major step towards qualification for the 2011 competition. They will then welcome Brazil following the South Americans' fixture against England in Qatar on November 14. Khalid said the Brazil match is not only important on the pitch - it is needed to aid development of the game. this match is of the upmost importance in terms of Oman's football development.
"This is an important match for the country in general and for our football. We also want to show the world that Oman is a genuine football nation," he added. The country is also working with Fifa to create a professional league, expected by 2012. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org