India lead 1-0 against Oman at half time in Guwahati
Guwahati: Talismanic captain Sunil Chhetri has put India in the lead in the opening 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match against Oman at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium here in Assam.
India started on the front foot taking the game to Oman and trying to score an early goal. India came close on a few occasions.
First was when Chhetri slipped in a delightful ball for Udanta Singh. The Manipuri winger made a yard of space and hit the ball firmly but only for it to hit the crossbar and come back into play. The Omani defense quickly cleared the danger.
Soon, India received a corner kick on Oman’s left side. The well timed ball found India’s rock at the back Sandesh Jhingan making a nuisance of himself in the opposition six-yard box. Jhingan slipped his marker to reach the ball first but his header went over the bar.
The goal was straight out of the training ground. Oman conceded a free kick on the right side of their penalty box. With over five Indian players including Chhetri and Sandesh Jhingan waiting in line around the edge of the six-yard box, Omani defense and was expecting a good lopped delivery.
But taking Oman by surprise, Brandon Fernandes took the kick low slotting it straight into the path of Chhetri, who had peeled off from his marker smashed in with his left foot. Before anyone in the Red shirt of Oman could react, their goalkeeper was picking the ball up from the net. And it was only 24 minutes on the clock.
India kept up the pressure but Oman soon found a foothold in the match. They soon started making some good moves. They put in a few well-timed crosses into the Indian box but to no avail.
India had to thank goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who denied Ahmed Mubarak Al-Mahaijri’s header at point blank range to keep the score in the Blue Tiger’s favour.
Rowllin Borges shined in the Makelele position shielding the defense and plugging the holes keeping the pressure off of center backs Sandesh Jhingan and Adil Khan.
Upfront, Ashique Kuruniyan took his free role behind Chhetri brilliantly popping up here there and everywhere confusing the Omani defense. He was ably helped by Anirudh Thapa dictating the play from deep.
Ranked 103 going into the match, India has never defeated Oman, who are 14 places above on the 87th spot in a FIFA World Cup Qualifier match.