A World Cup bound Germany managed to eke out a narrow 1-0 win against fighting hosts Oman in a pulsating Fifa international friendly at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex here on Wednesday night.
A relieved German coach Hansi Flick said he was happy despite the scrappy win.
“Credit to Oman players. They played well and posed problems to us. But we came back well to settle in the match. We could manage to score in the end,” Flick said during the post-match press conference in Muscat.
Flick said he had employed various substitutions during the friendly against Oman according to a previous plan.
“We had to ensure some match experience for several players, not also to play them for long. The changes and line up were exactly how it was planned, including the substitution of Lukas Klostermann after 30 minutes,” the 57-year-old said.
Flick praised debutant goalscorer Niclas Fullkrug, whose firm grounder was the lone bright moment in an otherwise dull night for Germany.
Flick said: “I told the team to show that they are ready for the World Cup. Fullkrug deserved the goal for his consistent attacks on Oman goal. He showed we are ready for Qatar.”
The German coach said 17-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko, who made debut against Oman, is a promising player for them in the Qatar tournament.
“He is a fantastic player. We will see more of him in Qatar.”
The German coach said there were concerns for the team in the defence as there were some one-on-one situations with goalkeeper Manuel Nuer.
“We weren’t good enough in the tackles and Omani players got into some close opportunities with our goalkeeper. These were not ideal for us as World Cup first round will be our next schedule,” he added.
The four-time world champions are sweating on the fitness of Thomas Mueller as the mercurial playmaker is battling against time to be fully fit for Germany’s opening game against Japan on November 23.
Oman coach Branko Ivankovic credited his young squad for a spirited performance.
“Our boys played well against a top opponent. We were up to the task most of the times and this is the style of Oman football,” the Croatian coach said.
Ivankovic said this was by far a most impressive performance by Oman team under his tenure.
“We had some close chances which went out by a narrow margin. This was a great exposure for our players against the former world champions Germany. I hope the match will do a lot of good for Oman football.”
Earlier, in front a capacity crowd, the Red Warriors thrilled the fans with a scintillating display – filled with pace and talent.
Oman missed a golden chance of the match after a brilliant counter attack in the 71st minute.
Forward Mohsin al Ghassani failed to put the ball into Manuel Nuer’s net after a clinical pass from midfielder Jameel al Yahmadi.
Mohsin was ruled offside when he came almost one-to-one with Germany keeper Nuer.
In the 80th minute, Fullkrug slotted in past Oman goalkeeper Ibrahim al Mukhaini to save the blushes of a toiling Germany.
Omani forwards made the life difficult for German defenders with quick counter-attacks and well-organised moves.
Zahir al Aghbari consistently threatened German defence with his darting runs on the left flank.
A good turnout of 25,654 fans witnessed the Fifa international friendly.
Oman held back a slow Germany in the first half to a goalless draw.
Germany took time to settle and hosts Oman went ahead with good breaking moves from the start itself.
Oman started off with a nice move by Al Munther al Alawi which was dealt with difficulty by the German defence.
Germany made their presence at the Oman goalmouth with moves spearheaded by Leroy Sane.
Youssoufa Moukoko was replaced by Niclas Fullkrug in the forward line-up while Matthias Ginter made way for Christian Gunter in the defence for Germany in the second half substitutions.
Fullkrug got a decent chance in the 53rd minute but his shot was brilliantly saved by Oman goalkeeper Ibrahim al Mukhaini.
Omani players also survived a close goalmouth attack in the next minute to deny Germany.
In the 56th minute, Zahir al Aghbari’s strong shot from a counter-attack was saved by German captain Manuel Nuer.
The resultant corner could not fetch any breakthrough for the Red Warriors.
Oman made two changes in the 61st minute.
Al Munther al Alawi was substituted by Mutaz Bait Abdraboh while Mohsin al Ghassani came in for Isaam al Subhi.
Germany made a change by bringing in Julian Brandt for Ilkay Gundogan in the 65th minute.
Ivankovic made a couple of changes during the injury time as Germany hung on for a close win.