Muscat: Runners-up Ithihad will face Seeb Club in the opening match of His Majesty's Cup round of 32 on November 30 as the draw was held at the iconic Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM) under the patronage of His Highness Sayyid Kamil bin Fahd bin Mahmoud Al Said, assistant secretary general of the deputy prime minister office for cabinet affairs, yesterday.
Interestingly, three second division teams — Samail, Bidiya and Al Rustaq received byes into the round of 32 while fourteen teams from the Omantel League will also play in the tournament.
In the high-profile draw, eight time champions Fanja will face former champions Al Nahda while Suwaiq clash with Saham in what could be the toughest match in the tournament.
Speaking to Times Sport after the event, Oman Football Association (OFA) chairman Sayyid Khalid Al Busaidi said it is for the first time a sporting activity is taking place at ROHM.
"I am extremely happy to have organised the prestigious His Majesty's Cup draw at this beautiful building. I am also glad to say that OFA is the first organisation to host an event outside arts that is otherwise being held here.
I am thankful to ROHM Committee for allowing us to have this event held here and I am sure we will have great matches in the coming months," Sayyid Khalid said.
Asked why OFA decided to organise it in ROHM, Sayyid Khalid said: "ROH has been gifted by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said to the nation and the tournament that we are organising is also in his name so we thought this is a much better place to have it than anywhere else. I am sure in the long-run we would have such unique initiatives."
Ahmed Al Habsi, board member and tournament committee head at OFA said matches look evenly poised.
"The matches look balanced except those two matches between Fanja-Al Nahda and Suwaiq-Saham. I am sure the team owners are happy with it," he said.
Ahmed said the aim for OFA is to further improve the standards in organising the championship. "We have been working to improve the championship every year and that has been our aim. I am sure this tournament will set a new precedent," he noted.
The round of 32 will begin from November 30 while the round of 16 will be held from December 24-25 and the round of eight will be held on January 29, 2013.
The quarterfinals will be held on February 17 while the semifinals will be held on March 16.
The finals are expected to be held in May. "The final will be held in May but the dates are yet to be announced," Ahmed added.
Defending champions Dhofar will take on Bashair Club. "I am extremely happy with the draw and I am sure my boys can easily beat them," said Dhofar Club chairman Sheikh Badr Al Rowas.
Speaking about hosting the event at ROHM, Sheikh Hazza Al Saadi, OFA general secretary and CEO said the football governing body has set a new mark.
"ROHM is synonymous for showcasing musical arts and culture; however, we have set a new mark in organising something related to sports and we will remain the first to host such an event," Al Saadi added.