Oman beat Indian football team 1-0 through a strike from Muhsen Al-Ghassani in their FIFA World Cup qualifier match at Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat on November 19. Al-Ghassani finished from a brilliant through pass from the dangerous Al Mandhar as Oman went into the half time break with a 1-0 lead. Things could have been much worse for India had Al-Ghassani converted from the spot earlier in the match. Igor Stimac has more things to worry though thanks to two forced substitutions -- injury ending Adil Khan and Pronay Halder´s outing. Sunil Chhetri was invisible right though the first half with no one to provide balls to the talismanic striker. India did came back stronger in the second half but was unable to break open the Omani defense and score. (Get highlights and analysis of the Oman vs India FIFA World Cup qualifier match below).
Five Talking Points at Full Time
1. When Chhetri is not involved in the game, despite being on the pitch for the full 90, it’s clear that something is not right. Whether it was the formation, the movement or Oman’s defence, India’s most potent threat was nullified both as goal-getter as well as linkman/creator.
2. There are glimpses of India being able to change the plan. In the second half today they played longer balls, out to the wings, and pressed higher. Though there was no real impact, at least the change of plans put some pressure on the home side and forced them to give away possession in their defensive third, on occasion. However, pumping the ball up and hoping for the best is never going to be enough.
3. Ashique Kuruniyan was India’s standout player today. Both club and country need to do as much as possible to look after him physically and help him grow into the game. Not only did he and Farukh do well defensively on India’s left flank, but they also provided come decent attacking attempts in the second half.
4. If we are really building a team for the 2026 World Cup, we need not bother trying. But if the focus is on the 2023 Asian Cup, younger players need to start more games and see more games through. This is a dare to Stimac to leave Chhetri on the bench for the next fixture.
5. Injuries. Clearly playing fewer games, and a short domestic season, is not helping. India have a bank of about 35 players who make turn out for the senior squad. The think tank needs to work out how to keep these guys fit. If Chhetri, at 35 or so the oldest in the squad, it is entirely possible younger players can do the same.
Highlights of the match below: