Asian Cup Preview: Oman v Kuwait

Oman will play Kuwait at the Newcastle Stadium on Saturday January 17 at 8pm AEDT.

Only pride will be at stake when the Hunter Valley plays host to the first dead rubber of the 2015 Asian Cup.

The Gulf countries of the group may have their fate sealed, but finishing bottom and pointless would be an embarrassing outcome that both will want to very much avoid.

Shaun Moran examines who is to go home with their heads held highest.


Played 27: Oman 10 wins, Kuwait 6 wins, 11 draws

There is generally precious little that separates these two teams at international level as their modern day record would attest to.

Traditionally low scoring affairs, it will be fascinating to see whether the floodgates will open with there being nothing on the line.

The only outlier in the context of outlandish results over the past 15 years was when the sides met just over 7 weeks ago in the Gulf Cup of Nations.

Oman overpowered Jorvan Vieira’s Azraq on that day by five goals and it will be incumbent on the Kuwaitis and coach Nabil Maaloul to ensure that a similar scoreline is avoided at all costs.

The Game

Oman may look to stick with the 5-3-2 system employed in Sydney on Tuesday, in turn providing Al Muqbali with some assistance up front.

Paul Le Guen went into damage control in the second period and reverted to a 4-2-3-1 in an attempt to halt the incessant seeping.

They subsequently only went on to concede one, but against they will be sure to get more space and joy against their lesser fancied rivals and will finally take the initiative this time round in order to reproduce a similar result to the 5-0 pummelling in November.

Al Muqbali and Al Razaiqi netted a brace and a hat-trick respectively on that day and will no doubt be focal points once again.

Fellow group toilers, Kuwait will want to build on their impressive second half display against South Korea and may be a lot more positive from the outset.

They will need to have the lion’s share of possession to deny Oman dictating the play, while retaining the ball will enable them to utilise the flanks and bring their lively wingers into the play in order to go at the Red Warriors.

A dearth of finishing in the front third will need to be eradicated very quickly if they harbour hopes of leaving Australia with more than one goal to their tally.

The big issue:


It could be foreseeable to see this match peter out into a scoreless draw in light of both teams having had their dreams of lengthening their stay at the tournament crushed once again.

Conversely, the two defensively minded teams – at least in their first two matches may relish the opportunity of having the shackles taken and may accept the invitation of playing some more adventurous football.

Both showed against Korea that they can trouble opposition defences particularly when in need of chasing a result.

If a such a mentality is adopted on Saturday, the Novocastrians could be in for a treat.

The game breaker

Regarded as Kuwait’s best player in a generation and one of West Asia’s biggest stars, Bader Al-Mutawa has seen significantly less game time than many fans would have liked.

The 30-year-old, who has made two cameo appearances off the bench against Australia and South Korea has shown the type of talent he possesses and what he can do when given his chance.

He was largely the catalyst in Kuwait’s revival against the Koreans in Canberra. His pressing and ability to generate options all at the same time made Maaloul’s decision to omit the striker with 47 international goals to his name a baffling one.

His cutting edge could have seen them snatch a point in their last fixture, as Al-Hajeri and Al-Masqeed spurned a number of chances that came their way in crucial moments.

Kuwaitis and locals alike will be hoping to see more of the talented Al-Mutawa against on Saturday.


A solitary goal in four matches is all that Oman and Kuwait have managed to muster between them.

The reduction in class this time round will heighten their chances of nicking something from this to take home.

For Kuwait, revenge for the recent hiding will be a motivator, as will honour for the hapless Omanis. Expect an ardent and enthusiastic scrimmage.

Oman 1 Kuwait 1