After what was yet another disappointing performance, India’s hopes of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup are all but over as the Blue Tigers suffered a 0-1 defeat to Oman in Muscat on Thursday.
India’s second defeat of the campaign means they are virtually knocked out of the second round of Asian qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup to be held in Qatar and can now, at best, hope for an automatic spot in the third round of 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.
Despite looking to be offside from a through ball, Mohsin Al Ghassani scored the all-important goal in the 33rd minute for Oman as Erwin Koeman’s side beat India for the second time in the campaign. The Gulf side had earlier defeated India 2-1 in the first leg in September in Guwahati.
After a blunt attacking display in the first half, India played better in the second with a lot of ball possession and attack at the opposition half but a clear chance eluded them all night.
And as a result, fans on Twitter were left quite unhappy with the fight the Blue Tigers gave Oman as their winless run continued (while there was praise in some quarters for the second half performance).
Indian football fans also lashed out at the referee, who did not raise the flag after Ghassani was offside for the opening goal.
With just three points from five matches, India still remain at fourth spot in the Group E table, headed by Asian champions Qatar who have 13 points from five matches. Oman are at second spot with 12 points.
With a nine-point gap with the second-place team (Oman) in the group table, India are almost out of reckoning for a third round berth. They have only three more matches – maximum nine points – left to play in this second round of the qualifiers.
And Stimac would be hoping for a turnaround, especially on the attacking front where goals have been hard to come by.
(with PTI inputs)