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Al Muqbali revives Dhofar
hopes, Ibri take advantage

National team player Abdulaziz al Muqbali revived the chances...

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Al Muqbali revives Dhofar hopes, Ibri take advantage
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National team player Abdulaziz al Muqbali revived the chances of his team Dhofar to secure a slot in the final of the prestigious HM Cup as he struck the equaliser in the dying minutes against Al Nahda late on Tuesday. At Al Buraimi Sports Complex, Al Nahda missed a golden opportunity to put a foot in the final match as they ended the match in a 1-1 draw but all the probabilities are still available for both teams in the second leg match of the semifinal on March 17 at Salalah Sports Complex. Former Oman player Mansoor al Nuaimi put the hosts ahead in the seventh minute after referee Mahmood al Majrafi awarded a penalty for them. The first goal in the match increased the excitement of the game as Dhofar strikers raised their scoring attempts against Al Nahda. The first half ended with the hosts leading 1-0. During the break, Egyptian’s coach Mohammed Adhema gave a pep talk to his players as Dhofar came back determined to make an impact. Dhofar top-scorer Hugo Lopez from Spain had scored a hat-trick in the previous match against Al Nahda in the 19th week of Omantel League on Saturday. Besides to the Spanish forward, talented Al Mundhir al Alawi and former national player Qasim Said boosted the Salalah giants’ attacking in the second half. Despite the tight defence line of the hosts, the guests broke it after a series of attempts as Abdulaziz’s header went to the net in the dying minutes prior to the referee’s final whistle. IBRI CONTINUE FORM In an earlier semifinal first leg match, Ibri registered a 2-1 victory against Al Oruba in the former’s home at Ibri Youth Complex. Despite the loss, the Omantel League team can advance to the final if they score a 1-0 win in the second leg match in Sur on March 17. Ibri began the match with better focus and they managed to score two goals by Omar al Musalami and Deoop Enda. In the second half, Al Oruba raised their attacking moves which culminated in Ahmed Saleem finding a goal against the first division club.
Adil Al Balushi

10,000 runners from 102
nations

MUSCAT: More than 10,000 runners across all ages and fitness levels ...

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10,000 runners from 102 nations
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MUSCAT: More than 10,000 runners across all ages and fitness levels will come together this weekend for the ninth edition of the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon, Oman’s largest showcase of healthy lifestyle in the Sultanate. The increasingly popular two-day festival of running will see athletes representing no fewer than 102 nationalities flocking to Oman’s premier lifestyle destination, Al Mouj Muscat, for the event that has secured a growing international profile. High-profile former British Olympian and women’s marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe MBE is again on board as global ambassador, as well taking part in the 10km race. She will join six local ambassadors as part of the #RunwithUs campaign, a national initiative to inspire an active and healthy lifestyle. Taking part are leading Omani sports personalities tennis star Fatma al Nabhani, Oman’s first Olympic medal winner Sultan al Touqi, racing driver Ahmad al Harthi and sprinter Barakat al Harthi, while Olympic sailing hopeful Musab al Hadi and Ali al Habsi, captain of the national football team will be following the crowds from afar. The centrepiece full 42km marathon, half-marathon and 10km race will start on February 21, and will be held on fast, flat courses all certified and aligned with International Association of Athletic Federation (IAAF) standards. The second day, February 22, will see the extremely popular 5km Charity Fun Run — which has attracted more than 3,000 runners — as well as the children’s races, which will see young runners aged from 12 to seven years old take on three courses of 1, 2 and 3kms. This year’s official Charity Partners are the Oman Diabetes Association and the Environment Society of Oman. The Muscat Marathon was first held in 2012 when it was organised by the grassroots group the Muscat Road Runners, attracting 135 competitors. In 2017, the organisers joined forces with Oman Sail and the Oman Athletic Association in a bid to develop the annual event into a ‘must-do’ marathon with global appeal. “We are incredibly proud to have built on the vision and foundations of the race originally created by Muscat Road Runners,” said David Graham, CEO of Oman Sail. “As we have worked to develop the profile of this international event, our focus has also been on increasing local participation. I am delighted that the nation has embraced running and the number of Omanis competing in the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon has increased year on year. The event has created new opportunities for people across the country to challenge themselves with new distances, become more confident in their abilities and aspire to improve on their achievements with each race’’. And he added: “With the 2020 festival of running taking place over two days and involving a wide variety of local stakeholders, I am thankful for the support of our title sponsor Al Mouj Muscat, our many event partners and the fantastic volunteers who are all integral to the continued success of the event. At its heart, the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon is, and always has been, a community effort. I would like to thank the Ministry of Sports Affairs, the Ministry of Tourism, the Oman Athletic Association, Muscat Municipality and the Royal Oman Police for their ongoing direction and support’’. Organised by Oman Sail, the Muscat Road Runners and Oman Athletic Association, the Al Mouj Muscat Marathon 2020 welcomes the backing of official partners Carrefour, Sohar Port and Freezone, official supporters Oman Airports, be’ah, Garmin, Oman Oasis, Kempinski Hotel Muscat, abq and Europcar.
Oman Observer

Oman eye ACC Western Region
triumph on road to Asia Cup

Shahzad Raza –MUSCAT, FEB 19 –After outstanding performance in Nepal’s ...

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Oman eye ACC Western Region triumph on road to Asia Cup
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Shahzad Raza – MUSCAT, FEB 19 – After outstanding performance in Nepal’s 50-over Tri-Series last week, Oman will switch to T20 mode on home soil for eight-nation ACC Men’s Western Region Tournament, scheduled to start on Sunday, February 23 on Al Amerat’s picturesque twin cricket grounds. Captain Zeeshan Maqsood will lead the side while in-form Aqib Ilyas will be his deputy provided he overcomes an injury and is declared fit to play. The teams have been divided in two groups; Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Maldives battling it out in Group A and UAE, Kuwait, Iran and Saudi Arabia taking each other on in Group B. Top two from each group will contest the semifinals on February 26 with the winners reaching the final, scheduled to be held the next day. The five-team ACC Eastern Region Tournament will see Nepal, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and hosts Thailand in action in March and the top two sides will join the top two from the Western Region Tournament in the Asia Cup Qualifier, scheduled to be held in Malaysia in August this year. The winner of that competition will join India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in Asia Cup later this year. Hong Kong had defeated UAE in the final of Asia Cup Qualifier 2018 and advanced to ACC’s showpiece event. Hard to beat these days whether playing at home or away, Oman have risen to 14th in ICC ODI rankings, their highest so far, after returning unbeaten from a tri-series in Nepal that also involved USA earlier this month. Oman currently occupy 17th spot in ICC T20 Rankings and only UAE from the Western Region Tournament is ranked higher at 15. Playing at home puts Oman in a pole position to cross the line faster than others. “There’s no denying the fact that we enjoy playing at home and it does give us a clear advantage over others. Any home side would know the conditions better than others and there is always the massive support of a ‘home’ crowd that can keep the adrenaline flowing,” says Oman captain Maqsood. However, he feels there are no hot favourites in a T20 game and any team that plays well on their day can win. “Unlike ODIs, T20 cricket is so fast that the game can change its course in a couple of overs so you can’t take any side lightly, particularly UAE who are a petty dangerous team on their day. One little gem with the bat or one outstanding spell is all it takes to turn a T20 game over its head and we know sides like Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi are capable of springing a surprise or two anytime,” added Maqsood, who, along with vice-captain Aqib Ilyas, is in terrific form as an all-rounder. Oman’s floodlit grassy grounds with electronic scoreboards in Amerat are surrounded by scenic mountainous locales and mega shopping malls that make evening outings interesting and eventful. Oman squad: Zeeshan Maqsood (captain), Aqib Ilyas (vice-captain), Jatinder Singh, Khawar Ali, Sanuth Ebrahim, Suraj Kumar, Muhammed Naseem, Sandeep Goud, Muhammed Nadeem, Sufyan Mahmood, Amir Kaleem, Kaleemullah, Bilal Khan. Officials: Chef de Mission – Pankaj Khimji, Manager – Madhu Jesrani, Coach – Duleep Mendis, Assistant Coach – Mazhar Saleem Khan, Trainer: Evert Laubscher, Video Analyst – Zeeshan Ahmed Siddiqui, Physio – Sean Nowak
Oman Observer

Kaymer tops world-class field
for Oman Open

MUSCAT: Former World No 1 Martin Kaymer will tee it up in the Oman ...

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Kaymer tops world-class field for Oman Open
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MUSCAT: Former World No 1 Martin Kaymer will tee it up in the Oman Open for the first time in his career when play gets underway at Al Mouj Golf from February 27 to March 1. The 35-year-old winner of the 2010 US PGA Championship and 2014 US Open has a superb record in the Middle East, and despite not collecting a piece of silverware since that second Major title at Pinehurst six years ago, Kaymer is confident after making a solid start to his 2020 campaign. “I think as long as I follow a plan, winning again is just a matter of time,” said Kaymer. “At the end of 2019 I sat down with my coach and we talked about the things that didn’t work out and the things that did, and I need to elevate my game.” Kaymer, a three-time winner at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, began this year with a share of eighth place in Abu Dhabi and then posted back-to-back top-20s at the Omega Dubai Desert Classic and the Saudi International powered by SBIA, where a final round 65 propelled him up the leaderboard. “I feel really close because I have a plan now,” he said. “The last two or three years I didn’t really have a plan of what I wanted to do, where I wanted to be or where I thought my golf should be. “I changed a few things over the winter with my driving because I was never happy the way I drove the ball. It was straight, but it was never long enough to compete at the big events. “If you look at the stats these days, the guys are hitting it with 300 yards of carry, so I needed to change something. I did that and I’m very happy the way I’m driving it right now. “My irons have always been good and I have I worked a lot on the short game too. It’s just a matter of having a plan behind what you want to do. It might sound really silly — like how can you not have a plan — but sometimes you get so stuck in an environment that you actually forget what you are doing. You just go from week-to-week-to-week. “So I just took a break, reflected a little bit, because I was not happy where my game was going, and then I changed.” Kaymer is also hoping another change can start to bear fruit after he became reunited with his old caddie, Scotland’s Craig Connelly, the man who carried his bag during those two Major victories. “It’s great to have ‘wee man’ back on the bag,” said Kaymer. “I feel like I’m back in a comfort zone with Craig, and it’s important in my career now to find that comfort zone. You need people around you who know you and keep you in a good place — and that’s what Craig brings.” This year’s Oman Open is the third staging of the event at Al Mouj Golf and players will compete for a prize fund of $1.75m.
Oman Observer