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MUSCAT — Former Argentine star and currently a renowned coach Gabriel Calderon officially put ink to paper to confirm his status as Oman’s new trainer after Milan Macala’s term ended abruptly recently.

Calderon and Oman Football Association chairman Sheikh Saif Hashil Al Maskari put their signatures on the two-year contract at a crowded media session yesterday afternoon.

The coach and the OFA faced a barrage of questions soon after the signing ceremony, but both the parties felt that the move will augur well for Oman football.

Sheikh Saif refuted the claims that Calderon was picked with just a short-term goal as soon there will be OFA board elections and the equations could change.

“Calderon was the best choice from the short-listed names,” claimed the OFA chief. The signing ceremony took place in the presence of OFA vice-chairman Sayyid Suleiman bin Hamoud Al Busaidi, general secretary Dr Hilal bin Mohammed Al Mukhaini, treasurer Saif bin Mubarak Al Rahbi and other board members. Sayyid Suleiman said: “This is the first time OFA has recruited a coach without any agencies involved. We took advice from Fifa and also Saudi Arabia FA before finalising the deal.”

However, the task is cut out for Calderon as the summer event in southeast Asia — Asian Cup finals — is not very far off and it needs some quick planning to get going. However, the Argentine star, who has made more name as a player than coach, is confident on turning around Oman’s fortunes.

The 47-year-old coached Saudi Arabia in 2004 and led them to the 2006 World Cup before he was surprisingly axed by Saudi Arabia FA in December 2005.

Calderon said: “I have big ambitions to do something for Omani football. I have a good perception of the Oman national team which is one of the best teams in the region.”

Calderon, who has watched Oman players in close quarters in Doha’s edition of the Gulf Cup said: “I will prepare the team well especially considering how difficult Oman’s group in the Asian Cup is.”

After the Asian Cup there are World Cup qualifiers and then the Gulf Cup in Muscat and this gives us a lot of challenges. Calderon will coach Oman in Group A of next summer’s AFC Asian Cup with hosts Thailand, newcomers Australia and 2004 quarterfinalists Iraq.

“I don’t want to reveal any of my plans or strategies now, but you can make a note of it on the pitch,” said Caledron through a Spanish interpreter.

AFC Cup: On his immediate plans, the Argentine said that he will watch the AFC Cup Group C match between Dhofar Club and Nebitchi of Turkmenistan at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex today.

Dhofar are one of the two Oman teams taking part in the AFC Cup tournament, the other being Muscat will play an away Group A match against Al Saqr in Yemen.

Calderon is also likely to watch Oman Olympic team in action against Vietnam in an away Olympic qualifier and also visit Doha to meet the professional players involved in Qatar League.

On the problems of having too many professionals in the team, Calderon said: “I myself was a professional during my playing career and I know the difficulties. I will find out ways to handle the situation.

Calderon also suggested that he preferred to have external camps in any of the Asian country close to Thailand, where Oman will play their matches in the Asian Cup finals. “We will plan out friendlies with strong teams before the tournament.”

On his support staff, Calderon said that he has suggested five names, which includes his assistant and goalkeeping coach during his tenure at Saudi Arabia. However, the OFA is expected to decide on it only after further discussions.

my comments: hmm we'll have to see how he does
but i read somewhere that he was so popular with real betis fans that when he transferred to PSG the fans broke down the windows to the club's president's house

"Such was his popularity when he played for Real Betis that when he was sold to French side Paris Saint Germain the Spanish team's fans broke all the windows of the Betis president's house."
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