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MENAFN - Muscat Daily - 25/11/2012

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(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) National hockey team coach Sabil al Balushi and skipper Abduljabbar al Balushi are high on confidence ahead of their team's campaign in the World League, the International Hockey Federation's (FIH) new tournament.Oman will begin its campaign against hosts Qatar on Wednesday in Round 1 of the tournament, with the Qatar-leg featuring five nations who will play each other on a round-robin basis.Sabil's boys will set off for Doha on Monday. Speaking to Muscat Daily after a three-day preparatory camp that wrapped up on Sunday at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex, the Oman coach said, ''I am confident we will have a good tournament. We can win this round based on our experience of playing in similar international competitions.''After the opener against Qatar, Oman plays Sri Lanka on November 30, Azerbaijan on December 1 and Turkey on December 2.Sabil said, ''Sri Lanka will be our toughest opponent, we beat them in Bangkok. We have also faced Qatar a few times and beaten them. We have played against Azerbaijan before, that match shouldn't be a problem. But Turkey is the only team we are clueless about.''Oman captain and goalie Abduljabbar, however, isn't expecting a cakewalk, pointing out that five senior players will miss the action in Doha. The same five were part of Oman's runner-up show at the Men's AHF Cup in Bangkok, Thailand in April.For the Doha trip, Sabil has dropped the experienced Waleed Abdullah, Samir Hulais, Hashim Ghanim, Shakir Awadh and Bassim Khatir. He picked first-timers Wail Hassan, Ali Salim, Abdullah Hamood, Sami Awadh and Khalid Juma.Abduljabbar said, ''It is good to see new faces in the team. This three-day camp helped the youngsters get on well with the senior players. But we will surely miss the five experienced players who were with us during our last tournament. Having said that, I am quite confident we can progress to the next round of the World League.''Elections affected preparations'Meanwhile, the Oman Hockey Association's (OHA) technical director, Saad Mohy Zaghlool, admitted that the national team's preparations were hampered due to the build-up to the OHA elections on November 27.''It is true we couldn't prepare our national team too well for the World League,'' Zaghlool said. ''The OHA hasn't been able to take some important decisions because the elections are approaching.''He added, ''One important decision we need to take soon is regarding the appointment of a foreign coach for the team. The OHA's outgoing board wants the new board to take a call on this matter after the elections.''


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