Guwahati, September 6, 2019:
Two late goals from Al-Mandhar Al-Alawi dashed India’s hopes in their first qualifying match for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, under the floodlights in Guwahati’s Sarusajai stadium. Up until the 82nd minute, it seemed like the Indian team would take home all three points on offer, but a late flurry of goals from the Oman team put paid to their hopes.
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Skipper Sunil Chhetri’s goal in the 24th minute had given India an early lead, but their inexperience proved costly as the men from Oman were overcome the Indian challenge with perseverance and tact.
Playing in an electric atmosphere under the lights in Guwahati, with the crowd interchangeably chanting ‘we want more’ and ‘India, India’, the ‘men in blue’ held off the challenge of Oman till the 82nd minute when Al-Alawi found the back of the net with a long ball behind India’s defence.
However, coach Igor Stimac found a lot of positives despite the disappointing loss. “There will come a time when we will win such games when we kill them in the first half. Tonight, I think the boys showed India they can play. We should be proud of them,” he said, on the sidelines.
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