In the end, an inexperienced Indian football side, gave a good fight, before going down 1-2 against Oman, in the home leg match of the 2018 World Cup Preliminary Qualification round . Oman, ranked 40 places above India in the FIFA chart at 101, scored through Qasim Said (first minute) and Imad Al Hosani (40th, penalty) while Sunil Chhetri was on target for India with a superb goal in the 26th minute. The 19,000-odd crowd at the Kanteerava Stadium thought that India had equalised in the 69th minute but to their utter dismay, the linesman ruled that Robin was offside, thus shattering their dreams.
C K Vineeth essayed across from the right towards the Oman goal and defender Sallam Amur, flicked the ball into his own net, but the linesman thought that Robin was in off-side position before that. India coach Stephen Constantine gave debut to four players, including three in the back four, and the inexperience showed, as the home side were in the backfoot from the beginning, by conceding a goal in the first minute.
Then, a debutant Dhanachandra Singh went for a reckless challenge on an Oman attacker to concede the decisive penalty. In fact, the most experienced Indian players after the duo of Sunil Chhetri and goalkeeper Subrata Paul, who each have played more than 50 international matches, were captain Arnab Mondal and Robin Singh—who each have donned the India colours in 10-odd matches.
The fancied Oman, dominated the match throughout, with several shots at the Indian goal, while the home side had just a couple of goal-bound attempts. The Indian backline were under severe pressure trying to fend incessant Oman attackers and the home side were lucky not to have lost the match by a bigger margin, largely due to poor finishing by the visiting team. It did not take long for Oman to take the lead, as Qasim Said put them ahead in less than 30 seconds into the match, from the first goal-bound attack.
India’s English coach Stephen Constantine, who tasted the first defeat of his second stint as head coach of the Indian team, praised the fighting spirit of the youngsters and added that with Thursday’s performance, India have served a notice to other Asian countries.”Our aim is become one of the top teams in Asia. And though I’m disappointed I’ll say our boys showed the right attitude. They fought till the very end and never gave up,” the coach said.
The India coach also didn’t agree with the Korean’s linesman decision to disallow India’s second goal by ruling striker Robin Singh offside.”I thought that was a clear goal. And there were two-three other decisions that went against us. We deserved a draw,” he said. Constantine was confident that given more time to train and chances to play more matches, India will improve by leaps and bounds.