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MD1 - Group E: India 1-2 Oman

Guwahati: Oman came from a goal down to beat India 2-1 in their opening Asian Qualifiers Group E tie for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 on Thursday. 

Sunil Chhetri had given India a first half lead but the young Rabia Alawi Al Mandhar turned out to be the hero as he scored twice to give Oman the three points.

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India started on an aggressive note and kept their foot on the pedal throughout the first half. Ashique Kuruniyan and Udanta Singh led the way early on as they troubled the Oman defenders with their pacy runs.

The first attempt on goal, however, came from Oman as Abdulaziz Al Gheilani’s shot tested Indian custodian Gurpreet Sandhu.

India got their first chance just minutes later through Udanta, who after being fed the ball by Chhetri, narrowed the angle to unleash a thunderous strike but to the dismay of the home crowd, the ball hit the crossbar.

India came close again when Anirudh Thapa found Sandesh Jhingan with his corner kick in the 20th minute but the experienced defender’s header was wayward and India had to wait longer to get their first goal.

It eventually came through skipper Chhetri in the 24th minute following a mistake by the Oman defence as India took the half-time lead.

The momentum changed in the second half as India looked slightly jaded look after their first half exertions.

It was Oman’s turn to put the pressure on, which they did impressively albeit without success for the first half an hour of the second half.

India looked to be struggling and even the introduction of fresh legs in the form of Chhangte didn’t liven things up for the hosts and Oman finally broke through in the 82nd minute as Mandhar lobbed the ball over an advancing Gurpreet for his first international goal.

The goal gave Oman the confidence they needed and they found one more in the 90th minute as Mandhar secured the points with a spectacular strike from the edge of the box that found the top right corner.

AFC Asian Cup champions Qatar are up next for India on Tuesday while Oman will play their second match on October 10 against Afghanistan.

Photos: All India Football Federation

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