Have to commend Indian football team coach Igor Stimac for his honesty this time around. Of course he exaggerates, talks in mumbo-jumbo to confuse everyone, especially after a bad result. But on Thursday, he was honest. The coach said that he was very happy with the result -- a 1-1 draw in the friendly against Oman at the Maktoum Bin Rashid Stadium in Dubai. Well, the team and Stimac have every reason to be happy about...
The national team was making a comeback to action against Oman on Thursday and with a squad full of youngsters who earned the national call up after stellar performances in the Indian Super League (ISL). It was always going to be a tough game against Oman. However, what transpired was beyond the scales of one-sidedness we have seen on a football pitch. This was glaring in the first half when Oman hardly gave the Indians a touch of the ball.
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The Indians were lucky to head into the break just one goal behind. Oman were wasteful up front, even squandering a spot kick. In the second half India played marginally better than their miserable self in the first half, and equalised too. However, Oman had the upper hand right through the match. But they were wasteful and tad unlucky too that they could not score.
Stimac also pointed out that he had handed 10 debuts in the match, implying that with a squad full of less experienced players, the result was fair. But the performance was unfair to the contest that one expected, especially since the Indian team was full of ISL stars.
"One good thing was the result in the end. The whole team reacted really well in the second half. They did their best and tried everything. We had some good transitions, which is something I was looking for. In the end, I have to say I am happy because we had 10 debutants today – some with many minutes on the pitch and some with only a few. But, they all did their part in getting our first point from Oman in three games," said Stimac.
Goalkeeper Amrinder Singh saved a tame penalty-kick in the first half but Oman took the lead in the 43rd minute through an own goal by Sandesh Jhingan. India equalised through Manvir Singh, who headed home a cross from Bipin Singh, who had snatched the ball from the feet of a lax Oman defender..
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The players who earned their caps today were Akash Mishra, Ashutosh Mehta, Chinglensana Singh, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Bipin Singh and Jeakson Singh (all were part of the starting XI), Lalengmawia Ralte, Yasir Mohammad, Ishan Pandita and Mashoor Shareef came on as substitutes.
India will next play the UAE at the Zabeel Stadium in Dubai on March 29.
"There is another game now and I need to give a chance to other players who didn't play today (Thursday), which is why we are here. In a month, we will start from scratch and I need to find out what they can do against such sides," concluded Stimac.
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