Bengaluru, Sep 5: India started their World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign with heartbreak as they lost 1-2 to Oman at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati, on Thursday (September 5). The Blue Tigers looked just a few minutes away from a historic win which could have been a milestone in Indian Football but it was simply not meant to be.
Skipper Sunil Chhetri gave the hosts their precious lead on the 24th minute but two late strikes from Rabia Said Al Alawi Al Mandhar meant Oman returned home from Guwahati with all three points.
Here are three things we learnt from the game:
A problem that has been persistent with the Indian national team is the tendency to concede too many goals in the last 15 minutes of the game. It's a problem that has been hurting India since the Stephen Constantine era and things are not looking much better under Igor Stimac as well. Today was no exception. Though India looked the better side for most of the game, Oman took the game away from the Blues in the final ten minutes of the game. Indian players showed tiredness and Oman took advantage of that and it is something Stimac needs to look more carefully into.
Udanta Singh and Ashique Kuruniyan both had brilliant games. Ashique did look tired in the closing stages of the game but he still gave his everything for the team. He was all over the pitch winning many 50-50 balls and always putting pressure on the opponents. On the other hand, Udanta Singh was excellent as well and was denied by the post once. He was also tireless and was always trying to make something happen for the Indian side. Stimac should be really happy with the performance of his two wingers.
Sunil Chhetri has been the main man for India for more than a decade now. The flag-bearer of Indian football hardly disappoints and he scored his 72nd goal for the country in the 24th minute from a nicely-worked set-piece. Even though he is 35 years of age now, he looks as fresh as ever when he puts on the Indian jersey and it was evident until the final whistle when he was still chasing the ball like a 20-year-old kid. He was all over the pitch and gave everything for the team which he always does. Whatever the result is, Indians should be very proud of their skipper.