The Indian football team came back from behind to draw 1-1 with Oman in the first of their two international friendlies in Dubai. Chinglensana Singh's own goal broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute before Manvir Singh's second-half header helped the Blue Tigers draw level at the Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium in Dubai on Thursday.
Indian football team struggle in the first-half, but maintain their defensive stature
The game started with Oman dominating the proceedings as they mostly kept possession of the ball. Oman kept crossing from either wing and managed to find regular openings to test India's defense in the first-half.
The Blue Tigers soaked up all the pressure and put in a resilient defensive display, with the likes of Sandesh Jhingan, Chinglensana Singh, Akash Mishra, and Ashutosh Mehta managing to keep the Omani attackers at bay. However, the Indian midfield struggled to retain possession and were comprehensively outplayed in the opening 45 minutes. Rowllin Borges and Jeakson Singh failed to string passes together to create openings for the Indian football team.
Borges then brought down Abdul Raziz inside the penalty box and the referee was quick to point to the spot. But Amrinder Singh kept out Raziz's resultant spot-kick in the 26th minute.
The Indian football team went into the half-time break 1-0 down. Following an Omani cross from the left in the 43nd minute, the ball bobbled off Amrinder Singh and trickled into the back of the net despite Chinglensana Singh making a last-ditch attempt.
Key substitutions help the Indian football team salvage a draw
Igor Stimac introduced Lalengmawia Ralte and Raynier Fernandes at the expense of Rowllin Borges and Jeakson Singh. The presence of Apuia in midfield added stability to the Indian side, who started to have a lot more touches on the ball from the start of the second-half.
India finally struck in the 55th minute when Bipin Singh delivered an inch-perfect cross to find Manvir Singh inside the box, with the latter heading it home to restore parity. Despite Oman trying hard to score a winner in the latter stages of the second-half, the Indian defense stood strong.
10 players make Indian football team debut
Igor Stimac handed debut starts to Ashutosh Mehta, Chinglensana Singh, Akash Mishra, Bipin Singh, Suresh Singh Wangjam, and Jeakson Singh against Oman. Four more players - Ishan Pandita, Mohammad Yasir, Lalengmawia Ralte, and Mashoor Shereef - made their national team debuts in the second-half after coming on as substitutes. It is the highest number of debutants in a single game for the Indian football team.
Indian football team to face UAE
The Blue Tigers will now face the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on March 29 at the Zabeel Stadium in Dubai before returning to India.