India vs Oman, FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifier: Here's how India can win against the host on Tuesday

The Sunil Chhetri-led India will eye its first win in the World Cup 2022 qualifying campaign when it locks horns with host Oman on Tuesday.

Sunil Chhetri will hope to lead from the front in a crucial World Cup qualifier fixture against Oman.   -  GETTY IMAGES

India started its 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign with a home game against Oman. The Blue Tigers made a strong start, much to the surprise of the visiting side.

It was Igor Stimac’s first official match in charge of the national team and, as promised, the style of play was easy on the eye and something the fans got behind in loud voice.

What went right?

Sunil Chhetri led the team as the captain but surprisingly wasn’t the focal point of the attack for a change. When in possession, he fell back and allowed fellow Bengaluru FC winger Ashique Kuruniyan to make runs into the channels.

The dominant first-half performance was largely due to this tactical tweak from Stimac. Ashique, Brandon Fernandes and Udanta Singh formed a fluid attack and their movement across the pitch caused some confusion among the tracking defenders.

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Rowllin Borges and Anirudh Thapa in the midfield pivot complemented each other. The physically strong Rowllin helped by shielding the defence while Thapa was given a lot of time on the ball to pick his pass. Chhetri's goal came from a cleverly taken free-kick that Aashique won after getting to the end of one the many passes from Thapa. Borges is injured and isn't part of the squad, whoever fills in for him has to emulate Borges.

What went wrong?

Stimac first took charge of the team at the Intercontinental Cup and the King’s Cup. In both the friendly tournaments, the defence stood out for how porous it was. The mistakes weren’t rectified as both Oman goals came from defensive errors.

The visitor fired warnings in the first half when two simple balls over the defence forced Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to pull off two excellent saves.

Reflecting on the game, Thapa said how India after taking the lead failed to keep it midfield compact which allowed Oman a way back into the game in the second half. "They [Oman] opened us through the middle and that caused us problems. Against Qatar [goalless draw], we made our midfield strong and let them play through our wings. That didn't trouble us so much,” said Thapa.

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