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MENAFN - Muscat Daily - 21/11/2012

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(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Defending champion Dhofar will begin its quest for a record ninth title in the 42nd His Majesty's Cup Football Championship when it takes on first division side Al Bashayer in an away game in the round of 32 knockout phase starting this month end.While the eight-time champion from Salalah starts against a relatively easier opponent, another eight-time winner Fanja was pitted against tough rival Al Nahda at the draw ceremony that was held at the Royal Opera House Muscat on Tuesday evening. The draw for the 32 teams was held under the auspices of H H Sayyid Kamil bin Fahd al Said, Assistant Secretary-General for Cabinet Affairs at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.Ahmed al Habsi, chairman of the Oman Football Association's (OFA) competitions committee, said, ''We changed the format this year onwards. Unlike last year, when there were double-leg games in the quarterfinals and semifinals, this time only the semifinals will feature home-and-away matches.'' Habsi also announced that the 2012-13 domestic football season will conclude with the HM's Cup final in May 2013. The round of 32 will be held from November 30-December 2 and will be followed by the round of 16 from December 24-25. The quarterfinals will be held on January 29 and the double-leg semifinals will be played on February 13 and April 16.The date of the final will be decided later. The 14 Omantel Elite League clubs, along with 15 first division teams, were joined by three second division teams - Bidiya, Samail and Rustaq - in Tuesday's draw. The second division trio qualified after winning their respective playoff matches. Speaking after the draw, Sayyid Khalid al Busaidy, the OFA chairman, said, ''We are delighted to host the HM's Cup draw at the Royal Opera House Muscat. We look forward to some thrilling games this season.'' The OFA chief said the draw at the Royal Opera House was only the beginning of a new phase.''From now on, we will make efforts to hold the HM's Cup draw at a landmark venue every year,'' Busaidy said. Sheikh Badr al Rowas, Dhofar Club chairman, said, ''It won't be an easy match against Al Bashayer, we will be playing away. Since these are knockout rounds, we will approach each match as a final.'' Fanja Club's vice-chairman Ahmed al Busaidy said, ''The match against Al Nahda will be tough, but we will be ready for it.''Fixtures: (Home teams first): Al Ittihad vs Seeb, Bidiya vs Sur, Al Mudhaibi vs Mirbat, Bausher vs Rustaq, Al Salam vs Majees, Al Bashayer vs Dhofar, Al Talee'a vs Bahla, Muscat vs Al Shabab, Al Arouba vs Yanqul, Fanja vs Al Nahda, Al Musannah vs Nizwa, Ahli-Sidab vs Al Khabourah, Oman vs Samail, Salalah vs Al Wahda, Al Suwaiq vs Saham, Sohar vs Al Nasr.


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