2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: India 1-2 Oman, 5 Talking Points and Tactical Analysis
India's 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualification campaign began on a disappointing note as the Blue Tigers got pipped by Oman at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati. Sunil Chhetri scored his 72nd international goal in 112th appearance in the 24th minute to give India the lead after Brandon Fernandes teed him up from a free-kick taken just outside the box.
India were resilient to hold on to the lead until the 82nd minute but a brace by Rabia Said Al Alawi Al Mandhar in the final ten minutes of the game snatched the victory from jaws of defeat for Oman.
India take on the 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts Qatar on Tuesday away from home and the Blue Tigers certainly have a lot of ground to cover if they want to pose a threat to the Asian champions.
#5 Igor Stimac yet to find a stable starting XI?
As for any new head coach, Igor Stimac required some time to know the strengths and weaknesses of Indian players. As a result, chances were given to 23 different players to start for India in the playing XI.
During the pre-match press conference of the India vs Oman clash, he mentioned that he and the players were very clear of the starting XI they were going to put out against the Middle East nation. But, it looks as if Stimac still needs to work on it.
A lot of people were shocked to see Sahal Abdul Samad's name being omitted from the starting eleven. But then, India were playing so wonderfully in the first half that very few were left complaining.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu looks set to be India's last line of defence after he produced magnificent saves in the contest. But, the same can't be said about the back four.
Rahul Bheke was the guilty party in conceding both the goals as he allowed Al-Mandhar to brush past him in the first and then, committed to a challenge way too early in the second, allowing him to dash to the left-wing and smother the ball into the back of the net.
Adil Khan does not share the same level of understanding as Anas Edathodika enjoyed with Sandesh Jhingan. The latter also conceded a couple of silly fouls and got a yellow card for a needless challenge. Subhasish Bose was slow to react in a couple of occasions.
In the midfield, Rowllin Borges was fantastic in the first half, winning the second ball and thwarting Oman's attacks. But, he produced an utterly opposite performance when the teams changed sides.
Brandon Fernandes was substituted at the hour mark to make way for Lallianzuala Chhangte to inject pace into the game. Anirudh Thapa, meanwhile, got tired late in the second half and almost scored an own goal.
Udanta Singh was brilliant on the right-wing and even hit the underside of the crossbar when the scoreline was level in the first half. In the left-wing, Ashique Kuruniyan was menacing and even won the foul which ultimately led to India's first and only goal.
Sunil Chhetri used all of his wit and experience in the crucial encounter, but it wasn't enough for India.
To sum it up, apart from the Bengaluru FC trio of Sunil Chhetri, Udanta Singh, and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, none of the positions in the starting XI fixed for India and Igor Stimac. Even Ashique's spot in the starting XI is not stable as Chhangte can give him tough competition, which is a good thing.
But, with the below-par performance of several players, it is unlikely Stimac will find a steady and well-balanced playing XI anytime soon.