Lalengmawia, Bipin Singh and Manvir Singh were able to impress for India against Oman…
After 492 days without international football, India took on Oman and held them to a 1-1 draw in an international friendly played in Dubai on Thursday.
Manvir Singh’s second-half header cancelled out Chinglensana Singh’s first-half own-goal that had given Oman a narrow lead at the break. In a game of two halves, Igor Stimac’s team managed to hold the waves of attack from the opposition, score their first goal from open play after 614 minutes, and hand out debuts to 10 players.
Suresh Wangjam, Akash Mishra, Bipin Singh, Jeakson Singh, Ashutosh Mehta, Mohammed Yasir, Ishan Pandita, Sana, Lalengmawia (Apuia) and Mashoor Shereef were the new faces introduced by Stimac. Of the 10 debutants, Suresh Wangjam, Bipin Singh and Lalengmawia were impressive on their debut and managed to make an impact in the game. Ashutosh Mehta was also good in patches but it seemed as if he was not 100 per cent fit.
Igor Stimac handed debuts to 🔟 players tonight 🆚 Oman 💪
— Goal India (@Goal_India) March 25, 2021
Poor start helped Oman
India struggled to get going in the first half and allowed Oman to take control of the game. Not all players managed to settle into the rhythm of the international contest and as a result, the opponents found it extremely easy to get in behind the defence and penetrate the final third at their will.
Oman were extremely wasteful in the final third, allowing Amrinder Singh and co to breathe easy during the first half. Amrinder did make a few important saves and Mehta had to pull off a crucial block to deny the opponents a clear shot on goal to keep India in with a chance.
The Blue Tigers’ good defensive work was nearly undone by Rowllin Borges’ foul on Al Maqbali inside the box. However, the Oman striker’s terrible spot-kick attempt allowed Amrinder to collect the ball from 12 yards out.
Another defensive mix-up inside the box allowed Oman to break the deadlock at the stroke of half-time. Amrinder failed to punch clear a low cross from left and instead pushed it into the path of Sana who accidentally put the ball into his own net.
Stimac admitted that was worried after the break and decided to change things around. There was a notable improvement in the display of the team after the changes were made and the biggest change was in the midfield with the introduction of Lalengmawia, more affectionately known as Apuia. The NorthEast United midfielder remained calm and dictated proceedings and cut off channels for Oman’s forwards and helped India get back into the game.
Mehta found Bipin on the right flank who delivered an excellent cross into the box to set up the Blue Tigers’ equaliser. India’s struggles to find a proper centre forward is well-documented and Manvir’s well-placed header into the net, after an excellent ISL campaign with ATK Mohun Bagan, will boost his confidence to fill the striker role for the national team.
The final report card for India’s game against Oman will be all about how India’s first-half struggle and second-half improvement. They have just one win under Stimac and there’s a long way to go. “We have some very quick players in our team but they couldn’t run away from the Omani defenders. There is a lot of hard work (required) in front of us. We need to bring some muscle to our bodies and keep working hard,” the coach had said after the game. He couldn’t be more right.
The 10 new faces now have the responsibility to work hard and make their chances count. Some of them are already off to a good start and the others will get their chance when India take on UAE in three days.