Oman Vs India: Al Ghassani’s Controversial Goal Ensures India Remains Winless After Five Games In World Cup Qualifiers

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Muhsen Al Ghassani’s controversial strike in the 33rd minute helped Oman beat India in the fifth joint FIFA World Cup/Asian Cup qualifiers at the ltan Qaboos Sports Complex, Muscat. The defeat has now crushed Indian contingent’s hopes to qualification for Qatar as the Blue Tigers now sit on the fourth spot with three draws and two defeats.
Igor Stimac changed formations as he went with a 3-5-2 and brought in Nishu Kumar, Farukh Choudary and striker Manvir Singh for Mandar Rao Desai, Pritam Kotal and Sahal Abdul Samad. India was hit with a blow within six minutes after Rahul Bheke’s error and brought down Al Ghassani in the box, leading for the referee to point towards the spot.
Ghassani stepped up but no harm was done as he powered his spot-kick miles over the bar. India’s response came from a freekick as Brandon Fernades lobs the ball to skipper Chhetri, but his squared cross went straight into the hands of keeper Ali al Habsi.
India was forced to make an early substitution after Pranoy Holder who had hurt himself in the early moments of the game was replaced by Vinit Rai.
Oman’s continuous pressure paid off when Al Ghassani latched on to Al Khaldi’s through ball and finished it past a rooted Gurpreet Singh Sandhu in Indian goal. However, when seen on rewind, Al Ghassani was offside when the ball was played through. Despite Indian claims, the referee did not lift his flag and the goal stood.
The Blue Tigers were then hit with another injury and had to see defender Adil Khan replaced by Anas Edathodika. Oman did have a chance just before the break but Rabia Alawi Al Mandhar’s low crosse was too strong and went across the goal.
After the break, India did have better possession of the ball as they went looking for an equaliser for the third game in a row. However, lack lustrous attacking performance ensured the Blue Tigers were kept away from beating Oman.
Custodian Gurpreet did need to make a diving save to his right and a quick reflex saves to keep Oman form extending the lead and give India a chance. However, Chhetri and co were not able to find an equaliser this time around.
With India still in the hunt for a place in the next round of the 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers, Igor Stimac’s boys will now look forward to welcoming Asian Champions Qatar on 26 March 2020 and Afghanistan on 9 June 2020. Sandwiched between them will be an away game to Bangladesh on 4 June 2020.

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