2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: India vs Oman - Statistical Preview
India will begin their FIFA World Cup Qualification campaign against Oman in Bengaluru at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on the 11th of June. The Blue Tigers find themselves in a difficult group which also includes Iran, Guam and Turkmenistan.
It is imperative that the Indian players put their best foot forward and try their hardest to get a positive result against the visitors. Oman, however, are being touted as clear favourites to win the match.
Here are all the numbers that matter ahead of the game –
Oman are placed exactly 40 places above India in the latest FIFA rankings released recently. As far as the Asian Confederation is concerned, Oman are 11th while India are 22nd on the list.
The visitors narrowly missed out on their first-ever appearance at the World Cup Finals when they lost 1-0 to Jordan in their final group game last time around, with the latter moving to the qualifiers for the World Cup.
Oman Head Coach Paul Le Guen is one who likes to play possession based football and building the game from the back.
India have played just two matches under Stephen Constantine in his second tenure, during which they have tried to keep hold of the ball more. However, they do have the option of playing it long with Robin Singh playing up top.
Oman have been struggling of late with their form. Their strikers in particular have struggled, failing to find the back of the net with any regularity. In their last three games, Oman have only scored two goals, despite two of the three games being at home.
India, on the other hand, have had all three possible results in their last three games.
Constantine has opted for a young squad for the qualifiers with only one defender (Arnab Mondal) having a cap to his name. Star player Sunil Chhetri scored both goals in the tie against Nepal that kept India’s hopes for World Cup qualification alive.
Oman: Lost to Syria 2-1
India: Drew against Nepal 0-0
Oman lost 1-2 to Syria at home in an international friendly in their last competitive game. All three goals were actually scored by Syria as Alaa Al Shbli put the ball into his own net in the dying minutes of the game. However, not much can be read into the result as coach Paul Le Guen had fielded a young squad to test his squad ahead of the qualifiers.
India played out a 0-0 draw with Nepal to book their place in the group stage of the Qualifiers.
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India haven’t beaten Oman in a competitive game since 1994 when they ran out 4-1 winners. Oman had their revenge when they beat India 5-1 in their own backyard in a World Cup Qualifier.
In their most recent meeting, Oman ran out 5-1 winners again. The other result sandwiched between the two defeats for the Indian team was a 0-0 draw when India needed to overturn a 5-1 loss in the first round.
Predicted starting line-ups
Ali Al Habsi
Al Habsi is the most recognisable player in both the squads combined. He has played in the English Premier League for Bolton Wanderers and more recently Wigan Athletic. He has already appeared in over 100 games for his country.
Stephen Constantine praised the shot-stopper in his pre-match press conference, expressing hope that Al Habsi would have a bad day against India; Constantine has already seen a brilliant performance from him during his earlier tenure as India coach.
It was Chhetri’s goals against Nepal that got India through to the qualifying round and put them on the road to the World Cup. The 30-year-old has already scored 45 times for his country and that too in just 77 games. For India to have any realistic chances of qualifying for the World Cup Finals, Chhetri has to lead the charge.