Oman 1-0 India | 5 Hits and Flops as India sink further in their World Cup qualifying campaign
India's disappointing campaign in the FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifiers campaign continued as Oman registered a 1-0 victory in Muscat, Oman. It was a 33rd-minute strike from Oman's #16 Muhsen Al Ghassani that earned the Gulf side their fourth win of the World Cup Qualifying campaign.
Just like it was expected to be before the match, Oman dominated the possession statistics and India had to defend stoutly and wait for their chances on the counter-attack. However, albeit unluckily, India might have been 1-0 down in just the 6th minute as referee Robesh Gamini pointed to the spot after Rahul Bheke lost balance and fell on an onrushing Muhsen Al-Ghassani.
After earning the penalty, Al Ghassaini, however, failed to convert his chance and India breathed a huge sigh of relief. Yet, 27 minutes later, some defensive lapses from the Indian team meant that the same Al Ghassani was delivered a superb through by Mohsin Al Khaldi and the chance was never going to be missed with the Omani forward burying his shot into the bottom right corner. Replays however later revealed that Al Ghassani was off-side by a few yards when Al Khadi released him with the through the pass.
In the second half, it was more of the same with both Oman and India only getting limited chances. India's opportunities were restricted to the odd set-piece opportunity while Oman tried to pile on the pressure with their star winger Al Mandhar Al Alawi constantly keeping Nishu Kumar on his toes. It was also Al Mandhar who created the best chance in the 82nd minute as he created a lot of space behind the Indian back-line with his pace but his eventual pass to Ali Al Bussaidi wasn't converted as Indian custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was strong at his near post.
On the whole, Oman dominated a match that didn't see a lot of action in terms of clear-cut goal-scoring chances. With three points in the bag, Oman would have taken the victory in any possible way while India continue to flounder after putting in an impressive away performance in Qatar.
Muhsen Al Ghassani - Hit
Given that there were not many goals in this match, Al Ghassani was always going to be on top of the Hits list. Al Ghassani could have let his shoulders droop after missing a penalty that he had himself earned while cutting in from the left flank. Yet, when the chance arrived, Al Ghassani took it with both hands and buried the shot into the right corner to put his side ahead.
Al Ghassani wasn't only involved in the goal as he worked his socks off and kept on constantly troubling the Indian centre-backs with his pace. The forward was also regularly shifting to the flanks in order to put the Indian defensive combination in a spot of bother for the entire 90 minutes.
Pronay Halder - Flop
There was a reason why Pronay Halder was out of favour with respect to the Indian national team for a period of time and this game didn't provide any evidence on why the scenario should change any time soon.
Albeit he was carrying an injury, Pronay Halder couldn't perform his duty of breaking down the play and help the more creative players to express themselves. Also, the ATK midfielder received a yellow card for a poor challenge on Ahmed Kano in the 25th minute. Halder's time on the pitch also came to an end soon after with Igor Stimac replacing him with Vinit Rai.
Mohsin Al-Khaldi - Hit
At the heart of everything that Oman did well, Al-Khaldi was probably the best player on the pitch. He broke up play, distributed the ball and created some chances in a game which turned out to be a sedate one. Al-Khaldi was also the one who supplied the sumptuous through ball to Muhsen Al Ghassani to put Oman ahead in the game.
Al-Khaldi's set-pieces, in particular, the corner kicks, were also spot on every time. Al-Khaldi could have got a goal on his own if Gurpreet Singh Sandhu didn't make a strong save off a free-kick from the Omani midfielder in the 64th minute.
Brandon Fernandes - Flop
After putting in an impressive shift against Afghanistan a few days ago, Head Coach Igor Stimac gave Brandon Fernandes his second consecutive start in order to dictate play from the center of the park.
While Fernandes saw a lot of the ball and helped India maintain possession, he was still not able to create many chances. With Stimac playing the Goan midfielder in a deep position, the lack of impact could be understandable to an extent but Indian fans might feel Fernandes did not meet his lofty standards. With injuries plaguing FC Goa, club manager Sergio Lobera also employed Fernandes in a deep role with much better returns at the start of the new ISL season.
Apart from his lack of impact in open-play, the 25-year-old was also not at his best with his renowned set-piece ability. India managed to get quite a few corners and free-kicks but there was no success in the final third. Fernandes either overcooked his delivery or put it in the wrong place for India to execute the set-pieces that were already prepared for during the team's training sessions.
Saad Suhail - Hit
Oman's experienced right full-back was also excellent for the hosts as they registered their fourth win of the qualifying campaign. Suhail bombed down the right flank tirelessly and caused India trouble on both ends of the pitch.
While Farukh Choudhary and Ashique Kuruniyan didn't have much success with their attacking runs, Suhail also helped Oman going forward. The 32-year-old played very high up the field and allowed Mohammed Al Ghafri to drift inside and create more options for Oman's attacking ambitions.Published 20 Nov 2019, 00:20 IST