x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Oman's London Olympics dream shattered by Senegal

Paul Le Guen's side lose play-off clash in Coventry 2-0 to leave UAE as only Gulf representative.

Oman's Mohamed Al Maashari sums up his country's emotions as they lost 2-0 to Senegal.
Oman's Mohamed Al Maashari sums up his country's emotions as they lost 2-0 to Senegal.

Paul Le Guen tried to remain positive as Oman's dreams of playing at the London Olympics in July were ended by Senegal.

Oman had hoped to join the UAE in the last 16 for the tournament in London, but they were sunk 2-0 in the play-off clash, played in Coventry, England on Monday night.

Le Guen, the Oman coach, said: "It has been a very positive experience and no disgrace to lose to Senegal, I think we have improved, but it is not enough. We need to do more but are going in the right way,"

Oman had been immediately up against it as they fell behind after just two minutes as Ibrahima Balde headed home unmarked from a free-kick.

Oman gave a good account of themselves and remained in the contest until substitute Abdoulaye Sane added the second two minutes from time.

Senegal's taller, stronger players dominated much of the aerial balls, while the Omanis, technically quick but lacking in stamina and finesse in front of goal, both produced plenty of exciting action, but Balde, who left Senegal at 16 for Argentina where he signed for Diego Maradona's old side Argentinos Juniors before a spell at Velez Sarsfield and a subsequent move to Spain to join Osasuna, summed up what the match meant to him and his country afterwards.

"The truth is, this is a very important stage for me personally, for our country and for African football. At 23 years old, I have the feeling its now or never if I am going to do something special in my life and achieve something so this was the moment," he said.

"This was a victory in which many people have been involved and we really wanted to do something special and memorable. The Olympic Games is special and to take part is a great moment for me and for my country."

Assistant coach Alou Cisse, who used to play for nearby Birmingham City, said Monday had been a special night.

"As you know, it is a first for us, an honour to represent our country and our continent at the Olympics. It has not always been easy in the last 10 years for Senegal but this is a tribute to everyone who has worked so hard over the years for our country, day in and day out," he said.

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