Saudi Arabia hosts Oman in round 7 of the third stage of the World Cup qualification. The match will be played on Friday, January 28th at King Abdullah Sports City (Jeddah)
Saudi Arabia is ranked high in continental football. The Green Falcons won the Asian Cup three times and repeatedly qualified for the World Cup. In 1994, making their debut at this level, they even managed to create a sensation by reaching the playoffs. Then there were several appearances in the group round, but in 2010 and 2014, the Saudis didn’t go through qualifiers. They managed to qualify only for the tournament in Russia and even beat Egypt there. Now Saudi Arabia is very close to gaining another ticket to the World Cup. Having received an experienced coach, Herve Renard (although he used to work more in Africa), the Green Falcons scored 16 points in six matches. However, Australia and Japan have chances of dropping the leader to third place.
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Oman won something only at the level of the Persian Gulf Cup. Even if we talk about the continental tournament, the Asian Cup, the Reds gained only several victories in the group stage and never made it to the playoffs. And of course, they have never gone to the World Cup. Frankly speaking, they have virtually no chance of making a breakthrough now, especially since they got a difficult group. But having made it to the final round of qualifiers, Branko Ivankovic’s wards at least do not look superfluous here. They even started with a victory over Japan. And then they were able to beat Vietnam at home and pulled out a draw in China. Moreover, the squad of Oman is staffed mainly by representatives of the local championship and neighboring countries!
Oman managed not to lose to its status neighbor in seven head-to-head matches in a row, but that streak ended in 2019. Last year, Saudi Arabia won again, but not without difficulty (0-1). Now the Green Falcons have a chance to de facto qualify for the World Cup, and they are obliged to take it. We bet that the hosts will win with a -1.5 handicap.