OPL is an excellent setup: AFC


From left, AFC delegate Kim Taehyung, OFA chairman Sayyid Khalid Al Busaidi and OPL chief executive Sheikh Shabib Al Hosni interacting with Oman media yesterday. Photo – Times of Oman / Jun Eastrada

Muscat: A high profile Asian Football Confederation (AFC) delegation led by Kim Taehyung has commended the Oman Football Association (OFA) for setting-up the Omantel Professional League (OPL) within a short period of time.

Speaking to reporters during a press conference held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel yesterday, the Special Mission Team (SMT) leader, who has come with a five-member delegation to Oman to inspect the League and the 14 clubs, said the OPL will significantly contribute to the growth of Oman Football in the coming years.

"We have just arrived and we are yet to visit any of these 14 clubs and inspect the stadiums, but what we get to hear from some of my other colleagues at the AFC is that the OFA and the OPL Committee have done an extraordinary job in setting up this League.

I must say they have acted pro-actively in building this stage. Of course they are in the initial stage but I am sure that in the long run, it will not only benefit Oman Football but also the country in general. At the moment, it's an excellent setup," Kim noted.

During their 10-day stay in Oman, the AFC delegates will visit the clubs and are expected to interview some of their representatives. They will also inspect the stadiums as part of the club licensing criteria and will watch some of the OPL games that will be played over the weekend.

"In the coming days we will be going to each club and will interview their representatives and inspect the infrastructure in their stadiums as well. If certain things are to be improved, we will advise them on that," Kim said.

When asked if there is any pressure on the clubs to meet the deadline, Kim had this to say: "We have to be really fair with every country we deal with. When it comes to clubs, we do not put any pressure on them. We know for a fact that Oman has just begun their League. It is just a two-week old baby and all these clubs will certainly take more time to adapt to the conditions," he pointed out.

With the club licensing that is expected to be completed by May 2014, the OFA is aiming at Omani teams taking part in the Asian Champions League (ACL) next year. Currently, only one Omani team is eligible to take part in the ACL play-off this year. As part of that, the League also should have at least one 'A' class stadium.

"To my understanding, they (Oman) have three 'A' class stadiums. Some of our colleagues from the AFC had visited this country in the past and they have given a positive response.

Overall, it looks bright for Oman and I am sure these clubs also will pass the licensing test," Kim said. The SMT team also includes Rahman Shahin (Competitions officer), Ong Chongheng (Finance officer), Mohamed Basir (Technical officer), Kitching James Richard Victor (lLegal officer) and Ramalingam Stuart Micheal (Media and Marketing Director).

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