The first qualifier match of group E between India vs Oman left India on the brink of their group. India lost by 2-1 after a fantastic brace from Rabia Alawi Al- Mandhar of Oman in the last 8 minutes.
Talksport 24×7 analysed the match and jotted down 5 important talking points from the game:
1) Possession Based Gameplay Of India In The First Half
India was very aggressive in the first half. They showed their dominance by keeping the ball possession on their side. India coach Igor Stimac utilised Udanta’s pace and prowess in the wing play. Along with him, Brandon and Anirudh operated in the midfield. Their calculative passes to Aashique and Chhetri helped the attacking line to continue imposing pressure on the opposition.
Oman’s defence was rudderless in the first half. The visitors didn’t expect such attacking football from the Blue Tigers. When the clock struck the 23rd mark, Oman conceded a foul outside the box on the left. Brandon rose to the occasion and found Sunil, who made no mistake to place the ball into the net.
2) Changing tactics in the second half :
After the first half, India came to the pitch with a different mindset. India preferred to hold the score. Stimac was confident enough on his defenders to hold Oman for the remaining 45 minutes. Aashiqui played as the lone striker of the team. Sunil played from behind. As a result, Aashique was blocked with ease by the Omani defenders. He couldn’t find any companion who could help him. India only got some chances from counter-attacks but failed to capitalize on them.
3) Oman Bounced Back In The Second Half :
In the first half, Oman was porous by India’s midfield. They couldn’t play their natural game in the first 45 minutes. But in the second half, India gifted them the opportunity. India tried to defend the ball so that they could use more space in the ground. Oman started to use their wings to attack. Every minute saw the opposition increasing pressure on the Indian defence. If Gurpreet was not in the goal, India could have conceded goals before. But he was not enough to stop Oman from scoring as India conceded back to back two goals in the last 8 minutes.
4) Gurpreet Singh Sandhu almost became India’s Savior :
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was in tremendous form yesterday. In the first half, he saved a dangerous ball headed by the Omani striker Ahmed Murak’s at 43 minutes. India left the ground in the first half with a 1-0 lead.
In the second half, Oman increased their attacks and created a lot of chances in the goal. Gurpreet stood robust and saved all the chances created. He looked quite confident on set pieces, collecting the ball before the Omani attackers could reach and create danger. Gurpreet was close from saving India single-handedly. In the second half, danger lurked as Al-Mandhar had other plans, as he went on to score at the 82nd minute and the 90th minute. He secured Oman’s win.
5) Lack of Goal Scorers from Indian Side :
India has scored only one goal which came at the 24th minute from Sunil Chetri’s effort. This was his 72nd goal in 112 appearances for the national outfit. Apart from him, there was no proper goal scorer in India’s team yesterday. Though Aashique was there, he is not a scorer. Every time he took the ball, he lost control near the box. At the 15th minute, Sunil found Udanta with a through ball in the box. Instead of taking a shot, he tried to tackle the defender and took himself on a bad angle. His late shot directly hit the bar. India lost a beautiful chance to lead in the very first time of the match. If India could use this small chances the result could have read something else.
6) India’s loss was a shock after got a quick lead
The change of plan in the second half was a completely wrong decision. 1-0 lead never was a strong lead. It is hard to defend the goal for the remaining 45 minutes. If they could hold the ball possession, Oman never could have gripped the match on their side.