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Lack of finishers costing India, says Stimac

Muscat: Tuesday's defeat to Oman means India ended 2019 without a win in the Asian Qualifiers, leaving them with much work to do if Igor Stimac's side are to advance to the next stage of the competition.

India collected three points from five matches, with both their defeats inflicted by Oman and head coach Stimac said the South Asian side's major issue had been their inability to score from open play in their FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 qualifying campaign.

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“I am disappointed with the result, we lost the game but we congratulate Oman and wish them good luck for the upcoming Gulf Cup. The game was interesting. Oman had more chances and they deserved to win.

"We were the better side in the second half, we were pushing really hard but we couldn’t score and that has been our main problem in these five games.

"All our goals came from set-pieces and it is obvious that we are missing players who can score goals. We are moving well and fighting hard but we don’t have accuracy in the box," said Stimac.

The Croatian, however, was satisfied with India's competitiveness in a Group E that also has Qatar, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

“We showed that we can play against teams like Oman, they are a quality side. My players made me proud but they could have done better in the first half. But this is the learning process and we will try to get better results in future.”

Injuries made things worse for India as Pronay Halder and Adil Khan had to be substituted in the first half against Oman due to injuries.

“When you need to make two changes in the first half due to injuries, that upsets the whole team and all the work.

“Our only player who can tackle well suffered a shoulder injury. We couldn’t pick up on the second balls.”

However, all is not lost as India can still turn around their fortunes with three matches to play.

They will host group leaders Qatar when the Asian Qualifiers resume on March 26, then play Bangladesh away on June 4 before ending their campaign with a home tie against Afghanistan five days later.

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