THE BLOG BY CPD FOOTBALL | The World of Indian football and beyond by Chris Punnakkattu Daniel

India go down fighting to Oman in FIFA World Cup qualifier

Indian national team
Indian national team

Photo Courtesy: AIFF Media

Football can sometimes be a cruel sport. While there are days when a Team can play below par and register a win, there are days when a Team plays stellar and tastes defeat.

Down by an early goal the Indian National Team went down 1-2 to Asian powerhouse Oman in the first of the Russia 2018 World Cup Preliminary Joint Qualification match at the Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru.

India had a goal disallowed for off-side in the second-half much to the frustration of the 19000 plus fans to chanted, shouted and ‘created the atmosphere.’

There were four debutants in the Starting XI and with Seityasen Singh coming on in the second, the number rose to 5. It’s a ‘new generation’ India after all.

As promised by Head Coach Stephen Constantine, India did give Oman, a Team ranked 40 places above the hosts in the FIFA Rankings, ‘a run for their money.’ The Team stayed together, played together, fought together.

Down by a first minute goal which National Coach Stephen Constantine attributed to “inexperience,” their spirits were not deterred as they mounted an array of constant attacks.

In the 21st minute, India came close to scoring when Arnab Mondal jumped above his marker, following a Eugeneosn Lyngdoh corner, and headed just whiskers wide of the goal.

But the moment was still to come. A curling left-footer from Sunil Chhetri in the 28th minute beat a diving Ali Al-Habsi, hit the post and bulged the net. The strike from just inside the box had perfection, arrogance and grit written all over it. Sunil later joked in the mixed zone: “Many say I don’t have a left foot.”

As the lotus spread all over, much against the run of play, Oman regained the lead in the 38th minute, Ali Hosni converting from the spot.

Changing over, and the Indian Team started from where they left off – pressing Oman. CK Vineeth’s cross came agonizingly close to Robin Singh’s head, who stayed alienated from the Oman backline, but it was sweeped away.

Next, Sunil Chhetri’s effort, after wriggling past two defenders, skimmed over the cross bar, as India started to call the shots.

With the game heading towards its dying embers, the ‘Men in Blue’ did score, but were flagged offside by the referee, to cut short the celebrations which erupted in euphoria. After fostering a corner, following a last ditch tackle by the Omani backline to save a Robin Singh shot, the Indian Team constituted one of the most delightful corner scenarios which ended with a Robin Singh flick into the back of the net.

Spurred, the Indians played like hungry lions to foster goal scoring opportunities. However, as the destiny had it the Indian contingent were unable to breach the rival citadel. And at the end of full time the scoreline reflected 1-2 in favor of Oman.

India will take on Guam in an away fixture on June 16.

(Report & Photo courtesy AIFF Media)