Muscat: Mohsin al Ghassani’s first-half goal saw Oman beat India 1-0 after a workmanlike effort in their 2022 Fifa World Cup and AFC Asian Cup 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification second round Group E match at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Tuesday evening.
Oman ensured they bagged full three points from the game to take their tally to 12 from five matches. India’s plans of progressing to the third round have suffered a setback after the game as they remain on three points from five matches. Mohsin al Ghassani slotted home the opening goal for Oman off a through ball in the 34th minute.
Oman got an early opportunity to score when they were awarded a penalty after Mohsin al Ghassani was brought down inside the Indian box. However, Mohsin’s shot went over the crosspiece in the fifth minute. Both teams were slugging it out in the first ten minutes with Oman working to break shackles from tight Indian defending.
Oman’s Al Ghafri took a shot on goal in the 15th minute with the ball sailing wide off the far post. In the 18th minute, Ahmed Mubarak al Mahajiri was in focus when he received a short pass from Al Mandhar al Alawi but the former’s lob flew into the stands.
India’s first real opportunity came in the 21st minute when Brandon Fernandes’ deft free kick saw skipper Sunil Chhetri come into play. The Indian captain could not muster enough power on the ball to steal a goal. India’s Adil was handed a yellow card in the 24th minute for bringing down Oman’s Mohammad al Musallami.
Another yellow card came India’s way when Pronay Halder was shown the card when he hard tackled Oman’s Ahmed Mubarak in the 25th minute. Indian coach Igor Stimac introduced the team’s first substitution when Rai Vinit came in for Halder. Al Ghassani’s goal brought the crowd to its feet as he slammed the ball home in the 34th minute in style. Anas Edathodika came in for India in the 37th minute to replace Adil as coach Stimac looked to shore up the Indian defence.
Omani fans gathered for the game had created a menacing atmosphere for the Indian team with their chants and drum beats. Oman came close to scoring another goal close to half-time but it was not to be as the home team led 1-0 at the break. India had started the second half in right earnest when Brandon Fernandes’ corner kick created a flutter in the Oman defensive apparatus.
Oman were attempting to score a second goal and kept asking the Indian defence questions now and then. Oman head coach Erwin Koeman brought in Arshad Said al Alawi in place of Mohammad Mubarak al Ghafri. Oman’s Harib al Saadi was shown the yellow card for a foul on India’s Brandon Fernandes. India were aiming at strengthening their defence even stronger as they brought in a fresh Golui Sarthak for Rahul Bheke in the 68th minute.
Arshad Alawi got Oman close to their second goal when he took a shot inside the area but India’s goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was alert to foil the attempt. Zahir al Aghbari came in for Mohsin al Khaldi in the 78th minute as Oman got some fresh legs towards the end of the game. Ali al Busaidy’s golden chance to score went a begging in the 83rd minute of the match after a top save by Indian custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. The goalscorer Mohsin al Ghassani was replaced with Abdulaziz al Maqbali in the 87th minute.
Pictures taken by Faisal al Balushi