(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Domestic champion Fanja begins its campaign in the 2013 AFC Cup against visiting Al Ansar of Lebanon on Tuesday, with both the teams aiming for a winning start. The Group B game will kick off at 7pm at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex. Fanja, the eight-time domestic league champion, is currently being guided by interim coach Mohsin al Kharusi. The Omani club recently fired its experienced coach Mudhaffar Jaber with the team struggling at third in the Omantel Elite League.
Fanja has named Hisham Jidrani of Spain as its new coach, though he will take charge of the team only after Tuesday's game. Al Ansar, currently on No 4 in the Lebanese league, is coached by former Lebanon international Jamal Taha. Addressing a press conference ahead of the match, Fanja's Kharusi said, ''I am confident of a good start to our campaign. I played for Fanja for 17 years and I am also coaching the club's U22 players.
This is not a new job for me. I know the team very well. The players are ready for this match.'' Fanja, however, is likely to miss the services of its experienced midfielder and Oman international Mohammed al Mashari, who is recovering from an ankle injury. The only other Oman international in the Fanja team is defender Mohammed al Mussallami, while its foreign players include Saeedo Keita (France), Sisih (Senegal) and Gustavo Cambel (Brazil).
Fanja captain Mohammed Mubarak said, ''Al Ansar is a big team in Lebanon. It will be a tough match. We will give our best as our aim is not just to participate in the AFC Cup, but to go as far as possible.'' Al Ansar, winner of the Lebanese Cup last year, banks on three foreign players - defender Ramos Sebastion and midfielder Marcelo D'Silva (both from Brazil), striker Wisdom (Ghana).
The visiting team also boasts of three Lebanon national team players - captain and defender Muhtaz al Jinadi, keeper Larry Muhannad and forward Mehmood Kozok. Al Ansar coach Taha, who spent his entire career at the club as a midfielder before becoming coach in 2007, said, ''Al Ansar is a big club in our country. It is my dream to take the club to new heights outside Lebanon.
The AFC Cup is one such stage.'' He added, ''The players are confident after last week's 4-0 win over Salam Sour back home in the domestic league. Fanja is a highly respected team here, I am expecting a good contest