End of the road for Oman in T20 World Cup

Oman’s cricket team have finished their 2024 T20 Cricket World Cup campaign on Thursday with a disappointing result against England, but there are plenty of positives to take away from the tournament.

Arab football teams are competing for a place in the 2026 World Cup, with Morocco looking for a return to form after a disappointing run of games.

Meanwhile, Palestine are hoping to bring the nation some joy and pride in the upcoming Paris Olympics after eight months of pain and heartbreak.

MENA teams continue 2026 World Cup campaign in qualifying matches 

Football squads from the MENA region took on their regional rivals during World Cup qualifying matches this week, as the countdown for the 2026 FIFA tournament approaches.

In Africa, Morocco scored an impressive six goals against the Republic of Congo in front of a home crowd in coastal city of Agadir on Tuesday.

Ayoub El Kaabi, the star of Greek side Olympiakos, netted a hat-trick as other leading African football teams were held toaway draws.

El Kaabi kept up the goalscoring form that helped Olympiakos win the Europa Conference League last month with his hat-trick as Morocco made it three wins out of three in Group E.

Among the other Moroccan goal scorers were Azzedine Ounahi, Chadi Riad and Soufiane Rahimi.

Morocco will be looking to recreate the magic of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, which saw the North African team reach the semi-finals for the first time in history.

The Atlas Lions’ inconsistency, however, particularly at the January African Cup of Nations which saw them fail to advance past the second round, will prove challenging for Walid Regragui’s men.

In other games, Sudan beat their southern neighbours, South Sudan 3-0 in an away game, also on Tuesday.

The Libyan team saw themselves lose to Cape Verde Islands, in a game which ended 1-0.

Meanwhile on Monday, Egypt were held to a 1-1 draw against Guinea-Bissau, and Algeria beat Uganda 2-1 away with goals from Houssem Aouar and Said Benrahma.

In Asia, Arab teams played several matches, striving to secure their places at the upcoming World Cup.

The Iraqi football team beat Vietnam 3-1 in a home match played in Basra’s International Stadium, with goals from Hussein Ali, Ali Jasim Elaibi and Ayman Hussein.

Jordan surprised Saudi Arabia by beating them 2-1 in an away match played in Riyadh, with Noor Al-Rawabdeh scoring the winning goal in the first half’s extra-time.

The Jordanian squad is continuing their successful streak in football, after an impressive run that saw them reach the AFC Asian Cup final.

In another victory, Lebanon landed four goals in Bangladesh’s net, however, their victory was not quite enough to proceed to the following round of the World Cup qualifiers.

Qatar, among the region’s stronger teams, won 2-1 against India, while the Gulf nations of the UAE and Bahrain drew 1-1 against each other.

Australia proved to be too strong for Palestine, thrashing the team 5-0 in a match played in the Western Australian capital Perth.

Despite their loss, the Palestinian team made history for making it to the third phase of the qualifying rounds for the World Cup.

This was an admirable feat, given the unique difficulties and pressures faced by the team.

Earlier this week, the head of the Palestinian Football Association, Jibril Rajoub, was denied a visa to enter Australia following claims he was linked to “a terrorist organisation”.

As a result, he was unable to join the team for their match against the Socceroos.

Additionally, many of the team’s players are from Gaza, and have been impacted emotionally and physically impacted by the brutal war.

Another Arab country also suffered a heavy defeat. Syria lost to high-ranking Japan 5-0.

Other results included a 1-0 Kuwait victory over Afghanistan, a 1-1 draw between Oman and Kyrgyzstan and a 2-2 draw between Yemen and Nepal.

Palestinian athletes hope for Paris Olympics wild card

Most of the Palestinian sportspeople hoping to compete at the Paris Olympics are counting on competing as wildcards from the International Olympic Committee, as the war in Gaza persists, the President of the Palestinian Olympic Committee said on Wednesday.

One athlete, who competes in taekwondo, has already qualified in their own right, while other Palestinian hopefuls are training to meet the IOC’s standards.

The Palestinian Olympic Committee is seeking to send between six to eight athletes to the Games, which start on July 26.

Two of those athletes could be from Gaza, Jibril Rajoub said.

“We have other opportunities in judo, boxing, weightlifting and swimming. They are all outside Palestine now,” he said. “They are holding training around the world in some (countries) who took us in as guests.”

Rajoub said since the start of the war in October 2023 more than 300 athletes, referees and sports officials had been killed and all sports facilities in Gaza destroyed.

He added that Palestinian athletes had been given support by Arab states, including Kuwait, Qatar, Libya and Egypt among others, to allow training in those countries.

“At the Games in Paris we will be present we will be representing Palestine in this amazing global event,” Rajoub said.

Oman cricketers World Cup hopes stumped by England

Oman’s dreams of progressing to the next round of the T20 World Cup when they were trounced by England on Thursday at the Sir Viv Richards Stadium in Antigua and Barbuda.

Oman were all out for 47 runs in just over 13 overs with Shoaib Khan notching up 11 runs and no other Omani cricketer getting into the double digits.

England and Yorkshire spin-bowler Adil Rashid took four wickets with Mark Wood and Jofra Archer taking three wickets each.

When England took to the stumps it was all over after just 3.1 overs with eight wickets to spare. Oman managed to bowl out Phil Salt and Will Jacks in the first two overs before Jos Butler and Jonny Bairstow found their form and knocked ball after ball over the boundary.

It was described as one of the most ‘one-sided matches‘ in World Cup history, but it would always be a mammoth task against the defending champions who needed a win against Oman to move through the group stages.

Oman failed to pick up a point this tournament and will finish bottom of their group, but the team can be proud of their performance this tournament, managing to score 125 runs and take five wickets against Australia and tied the match against Namibia before losing the super over.


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