MUSCAT: A superior Oman blanked India 0-3 in the Russia 2018 World Cup Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 Match at the Sultan Qaboos Stadium in Muscat on Tuesday (October 13). A winless India stay at the bottom of the Group as they are yet to garner any point.
Much like the rhythmic beat of the drums in the stands which started an hour prior to the kick-off and ran all throughout, Oman attacked relentlessly on the field. It just continued.
And had it not been for the huge Gurpreet Singh Sandhu who stood in between, the margin could have been wider.
Head Coach Stephen Constatntine admitted the Players “ran out” of steam.
“The lack of training time was visible on the ground. We went into two back to back away matches with just four and half hours of training on the pitch and it had a toll on us. In the second half, we ran out of gas,” he maintained at the Official post-match Media Interaction.
“We came to try and get something out of the game. International Football is all about fitness. From the work rate point of view, all my Players were excellent but when you don’t have the legs, your technique suffers,” he added.
“Gurpreet made some decent saves. This was his third International match for him as it is for many who played,” Constantine stated.
The flurry of attacks on the Indian citadel kicked-off as soon as it kicked-off. Oman dominated, pushed India back but were not able to break the deadlock in the first half. Riding on their speed, they tried to keep the Indian defence guessing but the defence anticipated, recovered and cleared.
Oman who earned 10 corners in the first half were unlucky to have been denied by the post in the 22nd minute as both Teams headed to the interval goalless.
The break, however, wasn’t able to stem the flow of attacks at the Indian goal. The first goal seemed inevitable any moment. But just prior to Oman taking the lead, India had their best chance of the match in the 54th minute. And it came completely against the run of play.
Jeje Lalpajhlua was fed by Cavin Lobo in the clear but the former was slow off the blocks as he entered the box. The rival defence, not surprisingly, recovered, and cleared.
Oman weren’t in any mood to show any mercy. With the “gas running out,” it seemed easier for them. They scored two more, Gurpreet, despite stretching himself to the full, wasn’t able to thwart them.
INDIA: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu; Rino Anto (Aiborlang Khongjee – 80th), Arnab Mondal, Sandesh Jhingan, Narayan Das; Francis Fernandes, Rowlin Borges(Sehnaj Singh – 46th), Cavin Lobo (Robin Singh – 70th), Bikash Jairu, Sunil Chhetri ©, Jeje Lalpekhlua.
By Nilanjan Datta,
AIFF Media Team