Rabia Said al Alawi al Mandhar´s two strikes late in the match proved to be the difference as Indian football team lost 1-2 to Oman in their FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign opener against Oman. Earlier, Sunil Chhetri scored his 72nd international goal to give India a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute. India, pressing high and catching the Oman with quick breaks down the flanks, maintained the lead going into the break in Guwahati. But the hosts soon ran out of steam and things fall apart after the 80th minute. (Get highlights and analysis of the India vs Oman FIFA World Cup qualifier match below.)
The result more or less highlights the fact that very little has changed with Indian football. Today, Igor Stimac’s side did all they could to play the tight tactical lanes and the close marking game needed to stifle the Oman players for space. For 80 minutes, it worked. But, cliche alert, it is a game of 90 minutes.
There are a ton of positives, of course. It was a far more composed performance in midfield and defence from India. Stimac and his team seem to have coached the instinct to make the final tackle out of his central defenders. No penalty was conceded. But, the lack of game time, the fact that this is an off-season game for India, and the lack of this sort of competition every week is the difference. As it has been for ever and ever.
We will be back with a full-length review video of the game tomorrow and then for the next qualifier at Qatar on September 10.
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