Oman exit the 2019 Asian Cup with plenty to be proud of, insisted manager Pim Verbeek, after their campaign ended in the last-16 stage with a 2-0 defeat to Iran.
Iran struck twice in the first half through Alireza Jahanbakhsh and a penalty from Ashkan Dejagah in front of a boisterous crowd of 31,000 at the Mohamed bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.
“I really enjoyed the game,” Verbeek said. “I enjoyed the atmosphere. I enjoyed the fight. But we knew of course we were up against the No 1 team in Asia and one of the favourites in this competition.
“They went up 2-0 in the first half and we tried everything possible in the second period, at least to score a goal and close the gap to 2-1. But everybody could see Iran kept the game under their control.”
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Oman had an excellent chance to take the lead in just the second minute when a penalty was awarded after Iran defender Majid Hosseini brought down Muhsen Al Ghassani, but Alireza Beiranvand made a superb save to deny Ahmed Al Kano from the spot.
However, Verbeek said with 88 minutes left in the game, it was hard to say if that goal would have made any difference to the eventual result.
“In football everything is possible, but a goal for us so early in the game wouldn’t have guaranteed us a win,” the Dutchman said.
“We had a fantastic tournament up to this point. We shouldn’t be ashamed we lost tonight to a very good team like Iran. I’m very proud of my players and my staff. They did a great job.
“There was unbelievable support from the Oman fans and the Iran fans as well. It’s a fantastic experience for my players and fantastic to play matches like this. We are disappointed of course we lost. But we have to move on with this young team.”
Iran manager Carlos Queiroz offered his praise to Oman for contributing to an entertaining and competitive match, while the Portuguese has billed his team as the ones to beat.
“It’s the first time in my lifetime I had seen a penalty against my team so early in the game,” Queiroz said. “We nearly conceded a goal due to lack of concentration but Beiranvand made a great save.
“I must say Oman played a really good game and must congratulate Peter [Verbeek] for a wonderful performance. Generally speaking, we are the strongest team in the competition.
“We played pretty decent game and more or less we deserved to move to the next round. I want to praise the performance of my team based on the fact on the merit and quality of the players for the win over Oman.”