2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: India face stiff Oman test
The Indian national men's football team opens its 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifying campaign against Oman on Thursday. The match is set to be held in Guwahati and will be considered as a qualifier also for the AFC Asian Cup, China 2023. India have never beaten Oman and goal-keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu is determined to gain the maximum. Here are the details.
India vs Oman: Head-to-head
Group E: India pitted against Oman, Afghanistan, Qatar and Bangladesh
The Indian football team is pitted in Group E. The Blue Tigers, who are ranked 101st in the world, will come up against the likes of AFC Asian Cup champions Qatar (55), Gulf heavyweights Oman (86), Afghanistan (149) and Bangladesh (183). The format will see teams featuring in a round-robin format with home and away games.
We will play to our strengths, says Sandhu
Sandhu is keen to see India get off to a strong start and collect maximum points. "We play to win. We will play to our strengths, and look to keep the opposition at bay. Hopefully, we can get off to a good start and pick up the maximum points to start off the qualifiers." "We have to play together as a team," he added.
Coach Igor Stimac vows to give everything in Guwahati
The past two tournaments didn't go well for India. They had a third-place finish in the King's Cup in Thailand. That was followed by an uninspiring outing in the Intercontinental Cup at home. Coach Igor Stimac said, "Realistically, Qatar and Oman are the favourites in our group. In Guwahati we are going to give everything on the pitch, aiming to win it."
India look up to Chhetri against Oman
India will be without defender Amarjit Singh Kiyam, who was ruled out due to an injury. Since Stimac's appointment, he had featured in all five matches. Udanta Singh will be the main firepower in the mid-field, whereas, Pritam Kotal will look to use his experience at right-back. 35-year-old star forward Sunil Chhetri is set to be the lone man upfront in a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Oman will look to get crucial away win
Oman will be looking to get crucial away points under the manager Erwin Koeman. The team has some key players in the mix. 34-year-old mid-fielder Ahmed Kano is their best bet to control the game. Ahmed Mubarak and Ibrahim Saleh are present as well. Mohammed Al-Ghassini will be playing upfront. Youngster Arshad Al Alawi could make an impact from the bench.