Tuesday 24 August 2021, 19:23

Al Araimi: Teams are going to start fearing Oman more and more

  • Oman were the first team to be knocked out at Russia 2021

  • The Reds salvaged some pride with a win over Senegal

  • Al Araimi: “We wanted to leave with smiles on our faces”

“It’s simple. You just have to respect the laws of sport. The better team won today. But they’re not just any team, because Oman are a force in beach soccer now.” The words belong to Senegal player Ninou Diatta and came after the Lions of Teranga had lost 3-2 to the Asian side on the final matchday in Group D of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Russia 2021™. Despite Tuesday’s defeat, Diatta and his team-mates will still be appearing in the quarter-finals thanks to wins in their first two matches. As for Oman, they are heading home, having failed to progress beyond the group phase for the third time. On each occasion, they have signed off with a consolation win.

“It goes without saying that we would have liked to have done better here, but we wanted to go away with smiles on our faces at the very least,” Oman pivot Yahya Al Araimi told FIFA.com, a smile appropriately breaking across his face. “It was no easy task because Senegal showed what they could do in their first two games, beating Uruguay and Portugal. It’s a relief that we’ve shown what we’re capable of, even if it’s too little, too late." The only team mathematically out of the competition before the final round of group matches, Oman served up some rich entertainment in Russia and perhaps deserved more. Sadly for them, their resolutely attack-minded approach could not make up for their defensive shortcomings. “The result is the same as before, but I get the feeling that we’re making progress and that there’s more to come, because we’ve got a new league that’s about to start in Oman,” said Al Araimi. “That’s going to move our sport forward. "I get the sense that our opponents are going to start fearing us more and more. It’s also true to say that we’re becoming World Cup regulars now.”

Now 35 and a veteran of all Oman’s World Cup adventures, Al Araimi is a seasoned campaigner in a youthful side. His world finals experience and seniority have seen him take on a role once filled by Hani Al-Dhabit. "I’m like the older brother in this team,” he said. “I try to pass on what I know and give advice when I can. If it’s helped a bit, then great.” Al Araimi need have no worries about his contribution at Russia 2021. His goal against Senegal was a fine example of his value to the team, and there is every reason to expect him to continue performing at the highest level for a few years yet. "I was born on the beach, in Al Mussanah, and beach soccer has been my passion since I was young," he explained. "I never tire of it and I hope to be back soon. If I could play in the World Cups for the rest of my life, I would.” So goodbye for now, Al Araimi and Oman. See you in two years’ time?