Oman beat India 1-0 in crucial World Cup qualifier
November 19, 2019 | 7:14 PM
by Times News Service
Image courtesy: Oman Football Association

Muscat: Muhsen Al Ghassani scored the only goal of the match as Oman beat India 1-0 in their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Tuesday evening.

The goal came in the 33rd minute and sees Oman continue to remain second in Group E of the second round of qualifiers, which also form part of the qualification process for the 2023 Asian Cup, after Qatar, the hosts of the next World Cup, beat Afghanistan 1-0 in their qualifier.

Al Ghassani’s goal came after visitors India received two yellow cards in the span of just a minute, Adil Khan and Pronay Halder receiving their bookings in the 24th and 25th minutes of the game. Three minutes after the second yellow had been handed out, Halder was substituted for Vinit Rai.

Five minutes later, in the 33rd minute, Oman’s number 16 opened the scoring, to raucous cheers from the crowd in Bowshar, which was almost full to capacity. The Indians made their second change in the first half as well, with Adil Khan, who had also been booked previously, being hauled off for Anas Edathodika, leaving the visitors just one substitution available, should they need to change things later in the game.

Oman’s first substitution came in the 62nd minute, Mohammed Al Ghafri replacing Arshad Al Alawi, and five minutes later, Harib Al Saadi went into the book. India’s last substitution came in the 69th minute, Sarthak Golui replacing Rahul Bheke as they tried to get something out of the game.

But the Indians have underwhelmed in their qualifying run so far, and Tuesday was no exception. Goal scorer Al Ghassani was withdrawn two minutes from time to be replaced by Abdulaziz Al Maqbali, and despite seven minutes of time added on, India left the game empty handed and Oman took all three points.

Oman will now depart for the 2019 Arabian Gulf Cup, with their first game taking place on 27 November against Bahrain. They return to World Cup qualification when they play Afghanistan away on 31 March, 2020.

Although Oman did come away with three points, though, coach Erwin Koeman would not take the Indians lightly, saying before the game: "This game will not be easy for both teams and reached a phase of readiness beyond the first game and we know each other, we studied the strengths and weaknesses of the team and will work on them. We have confidence in our abilities and we have to show that in the stadium. The situation right now is different to when the teams began. We have played several games, but the need for points does not make these games easy. Our goal is three points.

Centre back Mohammed Al Musalami added, “The game will not be easy, because the Indian team are quite advanced. Our goal is to win the points and we are players are ready.”

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