India vs Oman, as it happened: Al Ghassani goal downs India

India vs Oman: FIFA World Cup qualifier highlights: Follow the scores, updates and commentary of the match from Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex, Muscat.

Oman came from behind to defeat India in the opening match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

Hello and welcome to Sportstar's coverage of the Oman vs India FIFA World Cup Qualifier match  in Muscat. This is Aashin Prasad and I will keep you company through this evening's contest.

 

Three points from five matches.

90' + 6' - Nishu is down but Oman carries on before the referee blows the final whistle. Oman completes a scrappy win. India's World Cup qualification is effectively over now. Is it now too late to salvage a Asian Cup place from this campaign?

90' + 4' - Brandon finds Ashique, who tries to take on one-two many defenders inside Oman's box instead of putting in the cross. His run is finally stopped fairly inside the box.

Six minutes of added time for India to find that goal.

Some real urgency to India's game now in search of that equaliser.

86' -  Nearly an own goal! Ashique again makes room for himself on the left and plays in a looping cross over the head of Al Habsi, which strikes Al-Busaidi and goes behind for a corner. That could have almost rolled into his own net.

86' -  Final change for Oman. Goal-scorer Al Ghassani is taken off for Abdulaziz Al Muqbali

84' - Ashique goes on a run on the left and wins a corner kick. The corner is headed out by Oman defenders.

82' - Al-Busaidi almost sealed the match for Oman but for the palm of Gurpreet! Al-Mandhar runs at Indian defence and plays in Al-Busaidi free on the left. Gurpreet does well to narrow the angle to stuck his palm out which denied Oman the second goal.

80' - The ball doesn't stick under Manvir's foot! The ball comes onto his path outside Oman's box but he doesn't control it to get the other attackers into play.

78' - Mohsin Johar is replaced by Zahir Al Aghbari.

77' - Free-kick for India from a dangerous position on the right side. Brandon drills it over the Indian players inside the box.

15 minutes to go and Ali al Habsi is yet to be tested.

72' - Ashique with a good cross into the box which narrowly misses the head of Manvir.

69' - Chhetri plays in Udanta behind the defence and the winger checks in before going forward to play in a cross, which is blocked. Bizarrely, the assistant flags him offside after that passage of play.

Sarthak moves into the left centre-back role.

67' -  Final change for India as Rahul Bheke goes off for Sarthak Golui.

66' - Yellow card for Al-Saadi on a late tackle on Udanta.

65' - Three successive corner kicks for Oman and India come out unscathed from them.

64' - Mohsin Johar's free-kick from distance requires Gurpreet to put in the dive to push it behind for a corner.

Sandesh Jhingan, who is out injured, has his say on Oman's opening goal.

 

62' - First change for Oman. Arshad Al Alawi comes on for Al Ghafri.

60' - Again an Oman player down on the ground. AL Ghafri is down holding his calves and he is taken out on a stretcher.  It's been a stop-start half thus far but India has dominated possession in the last five minutes or so.

59' - Good build from India as Brandon releases Ashique on the left, whose cross fails to reach his intended target inside Oman's box.

56' - Another man down! Al Ghassani is elbowed in his face by Ashique. The officials fail to spot it and the Indian escapes a costly red card. Silly by Ashique that.

55' - Ashique is winded after a clash of body with Al Ghassani.

52' - Play is halted by the referee after Al-Saadi goes down clutching his face after an aerial duel with Chhetri.

50' - Foul on Udanta on the right flank. Brandon steps over the dead ball. The outswinging delivery is dealt with by Oman in its own box.

47' - Brandon's low delivery is cleared out for another corner. His second try fell for Anas, who failed to get the ball in his feet and that chance goes begging for India.

47' - Udanta wins a corner after good work from Nishu and his club teammate down the right side.

46' - We are back for the second half. India win the ball back from Oman straight away.

SECOND HALF

Phil Brown in the studio reckons Stimac will be happy that India is still in the game by just being a goal down. The Croatian will, however, hope he doesn't lose any more players down to injury in this half with only a substitution up his sleeve.

India has scored twice in the second halves of their last two qualifiers. Perhaps some fight still left when we come back?

The referee blows for the half-time whistle and India will count itself lucky that its not more than a goal down at the break.

45' - Al Mandhar gets in behind the left side and cuts the ball into the area which Mohsin nearly gets his toe to it to poke it in.  That could have been curtains for India.

41' - India on the counter fluffs a good opportunity to get a shot on goal. Farukh feeds Udanta, who takes the ball down to the left channel before playing it into the box. The ball falls to Manvir, who overhits his pass to Farukh instead of laying it off for Chhetri to have a go at it. A frustrated Indian skipper lets him know that he was behind him.

40' - Mohsin goes for goal from the corner kick to which Gurpreet is alert to and palms it behind.

37' - Second change for India: Adil Khan is off and Anas takes his place in defence.

To add insult to injury, Adil has gone down. He has left the pitch and Anas will come in place of the Hyderabad FC player.

Official broadcaster says India has conceded 8 goals from through balls under Igor Stimac. Yikes.

33' - GOAL!! Al Ghassani scores for Oman! Couple of defensive mistakes; first by Adil then by Vinit is followed by a through ball by Mohsin to Al Ghassani, who tucks in the finish to the right of Gurpreet.

32' - Vinit fumbles the ball under his feet which allows Al Ghassani to run onto a through ball behind India's defence. The assistant referee, however, flags him offside.

28' - Early change for India. Vinit Rai comes in for Halder. The young midfielder has had a good start to the ISL season with Odisha FC.

27' - What a chance there for Oman! Corner from the left side is headed over by Al Ghassani, who got rid of his marker Manvir.

25' - A second time not lucky for Halder. He makes a late, flying tackle and he justifiably goes into the book.

24' - Yellow card. Adil Khan is booked for a foul Halder commits.

23' - Promising build up from India with Brandon switching play to the right side where Udanta gets behind the defence but his cross is cut behind for a corner. There were four Indian players waiting for the ball inside Oman's box.

20' - From the free-kick, Brandon picks out Chhetri, who nods it down into the six yard area but Al Habsi has it covered.

19' - Udanta is brought down on the counter by Al-Busaidi and referee awards the free-kick but no yellow card.

Mohsin Johar will be key for Oman picking out the passes from deep. He was the one, who provided the assist for Al Mandhar to score the equaliser in Guwahati.

18' -  Oman win the ball back and turn defence into attack. Al Mandhar runs down the left, cuts the ball back for Al-Mahaijri, whose long range effort is into the stands.

16' - Manvir had the opportunity to move up on the counter instead, he does well to hold the ball under his feet before paying it back to Brandon to circulate play. It leads to an Indian throw-in down the left corner flag.

15' - Mohammed AL Ghafri goes for a shot from distance which flies past the far post. Gurpreet puts in the dive just to ensure he has that shot covered.

12' - Gurpreet goes long from a free-kick and Oman deals with Manvir's aerial threat. Oman back with the ball.

10' - Oman has started strong here, despite the penalty miss, passing the ball quicker and through India's defensive lines.

6' - And he blazes it over the bar! That's a horrible effort. Al Ghassani walks up towards the ball and hits it over. Respite for India.

6' - Penalty for Oman! Bheke again on the left side loses out on a foot race with Muhsen Al Ghassani and ends up taking out the attacker's legs with his shoulder by tumbling into him. Referee shows no hesitation in awarding the penalty.

5' - Some slick passing from Oman as it moves the ball down the left side but the low cross into the box is cut out by Bheke.

3' - Pronay goes down while going up for an aerial challenge. He hits the ground with his shoulder crashing hard. Physio comes in and the 'magic' spray is out. He is okay to continue.

2' - Ashique gets on the ball on the flank but Al-Mukhaini holds off the threat and the ball goes out for a goal-kick.

1' - Chhetri kicks things off for India. Ashique does start at left-back for India and he pushes high up the pitch from kick-off.

FIRST HALF

November 19 | 20:22

 

We are just a few minutes away from kick-off. The players are walking out to the middle with India led by Chhetri.

November 19 | 20:13

 

The midfield duo of Brandon and Halder looks a bit thin on paper against a quality opposition. Brandon is not a natural central midfielder but he has played in that role in the last four matches for Stimac. Halder will need to be nippy on his feet to shield the back four against Oman's creative attackers.

Stimac looks to be going with a 4-4-2 formation but its a brave decision to put Ashique in the left-back role. Manvir may be played in the target man role. Chhetri will be deployed behind Manvir, where he will look to link up with Brandon in midfield.

November 19 | 20:00

 

India's nemesis from that night in Guwahati, Al Mandhar starts.  Former Wigan goalkeeper Ali al Habsi starts between the sticks.

Oman's starting XI: Ali al Habsi (1); Mohammed Al-Musalami (2), Ali Al-Busaidi (17), Saad Al-Mukhaini (11), Amran Said Al Hidi (5), Al Mandhar Al Alawi (15), Mohsin Johar (10), Ahmed Mubarak Al-Mahaijri (12), Mohammed AL Ghafri (19), Harib Al-Saadi (23), Muhsen Al Ghassani (16)

November 19 | 19:30

 

For Oman, midfielder Raed Ibrahim Saleh is ruled out of this match due to an injury.

Nishu's addition makes it six Bengaluru FC players in the starting XI. Three changes for India with Sahal, Pritam Kotal and Mandar Dessai dropping out.

The line-up suggests winger Ashique Kuruniyan will pick up from where he left off in the second half against Afghanistan, where he played left-back. Farukh Choudhary gets a start ahead of Sahal Abdul Samad, who drops to the bench. Nishu Kumar makes his second India appearance. He scored a goal on his debut in India's 1-2 loss to Jordan last year.

India's starting XI: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK) (1), Nishu Kumar (5), Rahul Bheke (2), Adil Khan (6), Ashique Kuruniyan (18); Udanta Singh (15), Brandon Fernandes (10), Pronay Halder (21), Farukh Choudhary (12); Sunil Chhetri (11), Manvir Singh (9)

November 19 | 19:18

 

In case you have been not able to watch all the Indian Super League matches this season to get in tune to how the national team players have fared thus far, head our to our podcast page and listen to the 'Full Time show'. The Full Time show will have 10 minute discussion on every ISL match in the season. Keep watching the space for the review of Oman vs India, too, on the 'Match Point Paradox'.

November 19 | 19:13

 

Hey, you. Yes, you! I want you to vote.

 

November 19 | 19:00

 

India's first 45 minutes against Oman was an indicator of what this team is capable of under Stimac. With slick passing football combined with relentless pressing unsettled the opposition. However, India is less likely to adopt a similar approach in the away encounter in Muscat.

All eyes will be on the line-up which could give an idea of how India sets up tonight. After the Afghanistan draw Stimac said he wasn't afraid to make a wholesale change from the XI which took the field in Dushanbe. The likes of Anirudh Thapa, Subhasish Bose and Seiminlen Doungel, who scored the equaliser last week, could get a look-in. FC Goa striker Manvir Singh will be another candidate if India needs a target man up front. Centre-back Anas Edathodika is also back with the squad, six days after the personal tragedy of his mother's passing.

November 19 | 18:50

 

This qualification campaign is turning out to be a story of 'what if's for Igor Stimac's India. What if India had managed to hold on to its lead in the last 10 minutes against Oman in the opening match in September in Guwahati? What if it had managed to put away Bangladesh, a team ranked 80-plus rungs below it last month in front of 60,000 people in Kolkata? What if it had scored one more against Afghanistan last week?

If it had managed to those three wins, India's points tally would look 10 points in 4 matches. Instead, with three draws, India has just 3 points in four matches and is in the brink of its World Cup qualification hopes being doused tonight against Oman in Muscat.

India still retains a sliver of hope. Here's what India need to do to progress into the next round.

PREVIEW

Winless in four games so far in an increasingly disappointing campaign, the Indian football team faces higher-ranked Oman in a do-or-die Qatar World Cup qualifying round match in Muscat on Tuesday.

A first half strike from Sunil Chhetri gave India hopes of beating Oman in the first leg in Guwahati in September but it ultimately turned out to be so-near-yet-so-far as the Gulf nation struck twice in the final 10 minutes to outwit the home side.

Oman is coming into this match after an emphatic (4-1) win over Bangladesh in Muscat on November 14.

India, on the other hand, is struggling after an impressive goal-less draw against Asian champion Qatar as it needed late equalisers in its identical 1-1 draws against lower-ranked Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

ALSO READ | India vs Afghanistan: Doungel's late header salvages 1-1 draw for India

After three draws and a defeat, India is fourth in the Group E table with three points, while Oman is second with nine points from four matches. Qatar is on top with 10 points from four matches.

An upset win over Oman will certainly keep Igor Stimac’s side in the hunt for a next round berth but a loss will virtually send India out of reckoning as far as the 2022 World Cup qualification is concerned.

If India loses, it will trail Oman by nine points and have only three matches -- maximum nine points -- left to play in this second round of the qualifiers.

Even the runner-up sides from the eight groups are not guaranteed an automatic spot in the third round of the qualifiers.

A draw against Oman will also make it difficult for India to qualify for the next round. Its last three matches -- all to be played next year -- are against Qatar (at home on March 26), Bangladesh (away, June 4) and Afghanistan (at home, June 9).

ALSO READ | FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers: Can India qualify for next round?

But getting a least a point against Oman may prove crucial as it will make it easier for the Blue Tigers to get an automatic third round berth for the 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers.

This campaign is also a joint qualifying round for the 2023 Asian Cup and the third-placed teams and the best four fourth placed teams from the eight groups automatically get a spot in the third round of the qualifiers of the continental championships.

Stimac’s side has struggled not just in defence but four matches into this campaign, it is also clear that its offence is also not in the best of form.

India is no longer dependent on only Chhetri to score the goals but the inability to convert the chances has cost the team dear.

Stimac has no illusion about who is the favourite on Tuesday but he is also hoping that his players will convert the chances which come their way and score goals.

ALSO READ |FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers live streaming: When and where to watch IND vs OMN

“Oman are much better now than the team we played against in Guwahati. They are the favourites. We know for a fact that match is going to be very difficult for us,” the high profile Croatian coach said.

Historically too, India is the underdog, having not won any of the 11 matches it has played against Oman, which emerged victorious on eight occasions.

Before the Guwahati match in September, the two sides played out a 0-0 draw in the run-up to the 2019 Asian Cup in the UAE. In the two legs of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers played in 2015, India had lost to Oman 0-3 in Muscat before a 1-2 defeat in Bangalore.

India will still be without the injured Sandesh Jhingan, Rowllin Borges and Amarjit Singh, but Anas Edathodika will be back for selection, returning after the death of his mother.

The India Squad:

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem, Pritam Kotal, Nishu Kumar, Rahul Bheke, Narender, Adil Khan, Sarthak Golui, Subhasish Bose, Mandar Rao Dessai, Udanta Singh, Jackichand Singh, Seiminlen Doungel, Raynier Fernandes, Vinit Rai, Sahal Abdul Samad, Pronay Halder, Anirudh Thapa, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Brandon Fernandes, Ashique Kuruniyan, Sunil Chhetri, Manvir Singh, Farukh Choudhary.aq