Indian football team lost 0-1 to Oman, and out of reckoning to progress to the next round of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Oman's Muhsen Al Ghassani scored a first half goal to earn his side three points and put them in second position on 12 points. Qatar lead Group E with 13 points while India, with three points, are fourth and mathematically out of running for topping the group. (Oman vs India match highlights)
Here is Newsclick’s report card of the Indian players performances on the pitch against Oman:
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu - 7/10
Sandhu wasn’t called into action too many times in the game. He made a couple of brilliant saves in the second half that could have really killed the game. Not at fault for the goal, but could have been more decisive coming off the line to block Al-Ghassani’s angle.
Rahul Bheke - 3/10
Just like in the previous two games, Bheke started too slowly off the blocks. He gave away an early penalty that no matter what people say, was fairly clear. Bheke needs to go into tackles with his hands tied to his sides. He also gave the ball too cheaply.
Adil Khan - 5/10
Adil was winning the ball in the box and commanding the defence for as long as he was on the pitch. Hopefully he is not injured for too long. It was evident that he has aggravated an injury he was carrying into this round of fixtures.
Nishu Kumar - 5/10
Nishu followed instructions given by his senior partners decently. Combined well with Udanta Singh on occasions. If Stimac is being honest about planning for the 2026 World Cup -- or even the 2023 Asian Cup -- young players like him needs to get more game time.
Ashique Kuruniyan - 7/10
Ashique was by far India’s best player on the pitch, despite being played in a position he is new to. Like Nishu, Ashique is India’s future and needs to be protected and given more time in areas he prefers to play in. He was good defensively despite being caught out of position often and combined well with Farukh on the left.
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Pronay Halder - NA
Pronay didn’t play long enough to impact the game in any way. If anything his injury put Vinit Rai and India into a position of vulnerability.
Udanta Singh - 5/10
Udanta was quick and has speed, no doubt. But he doesn’t deliver enough good final balls. This could be a critique of Udanta’s entire career so far, but is, in fact, just a critique of his impact on the game vs Oman. He was, on the whole much better in the second half once the game plan involved spreading the ball into areas for him to run into.
Brandon Fernandes - 4/10
Brandon took too many long punts into nothing and unfortunately wasted too many set pieces from promising positions to be seriously called the ‘dead ball specialist’ of this team. No last minute assist heroics came this time. In fact, he did horribly in perhaps India’s best position from a set piece in the final 10 minutes.
Farukh Choudhary - 7/10
Farukh combined well with Ashique on the left, in effect carrying on from the second half against Afghanistan. He was also great at cleaning up and doubling up defensively for the Bengaluru player.
Sunil Chhetri - 3/10
Chhetri had no impact on the game whatsoever. It's a struggle to remember one occasion when Chhetri was in a position with the ball to make an impact on the game. He didn’t play the ball enough, wasn’t given the ball enough. Easy to say that the experiment of playing him in the hole is a failure, but maybe he will get more attempts at this.
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Manvir Singh - 5/10
Manvir did what he was asked to do. Got into positions, but didn’t get service. He held up the ball, didn’t receive support. Manvir needs to get more time playing as a striker at the club level as well as for country to really display his talent. He has the makings of a good striking option, if he gets more game time.
Vinit Rai - 3/10
Rai was brought in for Pronay and almost immediately lost balls in crucial areas that gave Oman opportunities to exploit gaps in India’s defence. He was clearly at fault for Oman’s goal but not at fault for being forced into a position he is not entirely comfortable playing.
Anas Edathodika - 5.5/10
Anas came into this game after suffering personal strife and for a man recovering from such was composed in defence. He was brought on to do Adil’s job on short notice. For a senior player though, he committed too many fouls around the area.
Sarthak Golui - NA
Golui came on for too little time but was probably useful in the long run. India next play a game in March but seeing how players are dropping like flies, blooding Golui in for a defensive midfield cover job is a good idea.
Igor Stimac - 5/10
It is tough to ask a coach to tactically tweak a game when he is forced into two substitutions because of injuries in the first half. Stimac took the brave decision of putting out a team with attacking intent, even if this wasn’t the fixture to do so. He will have some time off to really think about his starting XI and the pool of players at his disposal to construct a ‘new beginning for Indian football’. He changed the gameplan in the second half to spreading the ball wide and long, and it could have paid dividends for India. For now, though, it is tough to see how much of an improvement the team has made. His record now reads W-1 D-4 L-5. Not pretty.
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