India go down fighting against slick Oman

India lost out 2-1 to a crisp Oman side in their opening game of the 2018 World Cup Qualifiers played at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Thursday, 11th June 2015.

Oman started the game as favorites after having a considerably higher FIFA ranking than their rather youthful hosts whose playing eleven who carried lot of potential in Eugenson Lyngdoh and Jackichand Singh.

But the Indians got off to the worst possible start when Qasim Said lodged Oman in front within 30 second of the start after his shot went through the legs of Subrata Paul after he had been played through on goal by an Oman midfielder who robbed the Indian midfield.

The early goal left the hosts rattled as the visitors Oman seized complete control of the game. In the 10th minute, Subrata Paul produced a save from the top drawer to deny youngster Al Khaldi who almost succeeded in finding the far corner from a free kick wide on the right. But Subrata Paul did extremely well to tip the shot over at full stretch.

Oman put the hosts under extreme pressure post the quarter hour mark subjecting their defense to wave after wave of attacks which the Indians somehow manage to survive.

But completely against the run of play, India hit back in the 26th minute when Sunil Chhetri capitalized on some sloppy defending to strike a sweet left footed shot on the turn which flew past Ali Al Habsi on to the left hand side post and rebound into the net.

The goal lifted the Indians who made it far more of a contest after netting the equalizing goal as the early swagger in Oman’s play completely vanished.

The visitors slowly recovered and started building their way back into the game and were given a helping hand by Dhanchandra Singh who brought down Eid Mohammed who rampaged his way into the box after a crisp move on the edge of the box

Al Hosani stepped up to slot his penalty beyond the reach of Subrata Paul, but the referee asked the spot kick to be re-taken. Despite the added pressure, the Oman top scorer had no problems in dispatching a second successive spot kick, this time sending Subrata Paul the wrong way to give Oman the lead again in the 40th minute.

Four minutes later, the Indians were bailed out by the referee when he booked Al Muqbali for diving after he went down after a challenge from Dhanchandra Singh. The Indian No.2 had a torrid time in the first half but on that occasion he was rightly saved the blushes by the referee who made a brilliant call in that situation.

India went into the break a goal down and had their work cut out in the second half against a strong Oman side.

The visitors continued to dominate proceedings in the second half and made a good opening in the 51st minute when Qasim Said eased past Rino Anto to square up Ahmad Kano who failed to keep his shot down allowing India to escape unscathed.

Stephen Constantine freshened things up in the 60th minute when he brought on Dhanpal Ganeshan in place of Sehnaj Singh while Oman made a change of their own when they replaced Al Hosani with Raed Ibrahim Saleh six minutes later.

There was a huge controversy in the 68th minute when Robin Singh appeared to have leveled the game at 2-2 but the linesman adjudged it as offside to bring an abrupt end to the Indian celebrations. The replays suggested the ball never touched Robin Singh as India were left fuming over the decision.

Stephen Constantine threw Jeje Lalpekhlua in place of Robin Singh in the 83rd minute to salvage a draw from the game. But it was the visitors who came closer to adding to their tally in the 1st minute of added time when Fahad Khamis pounced on some indecisive play from Arnab Mondal to race into the box only to see his effort go inches wide of the goal.

Oman held on for the win as they opened their account in the World Cup Qualifiers. For India it was a tough day at the office as they came up against an Oman side who were a league above them.

But the Blue Tigers did well to give Oman a game till the very final minute and had it not been for the error from the linesman, things could have been a lot different for the Men in Blue.

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