India holds Oman to draw in friendly

Dubai: The India football team made a fine comeback in the second half to hold fancied Oman 1-1 in its first international match in more than a year, here on Thursday.

India conceded the opening goal in the 42nd minute, with centre-back Chinglensana Singh and goalkeeper Amrinder Singh involved in some shoddy defending.

Striker Manvir Singh scored the equaliser in the 55th minute to help India pull off a rare draw against Oman, in its first international outing post the COVID-19 lockdown.

India head coach Igor Stimac gave debuts to as many as 10 players. The first half was all about Oman attacking in waves, with India not getting a single shot on target. Oman, which won both the two-legged matches of the 2022 World Cup qualifying against India, played a high defensive line with more men in attack.

However, it squandered a penalty in the 27th minute after Rowllin Borges committed a foul on Abdul Aziz Al Gheilani inside the box. Aziz himself took the spot-kick, but shot straight at Amrinder. But, Oman was not to be denied a goal in the first half.

Al Aghbari got the ball on the left wing and sent a low cross on the face of goal. Amrinder could not collect the ball cleanly and it hit Chinglensana before going past the goal line.

Stimac made two changes at the start of second session, with midfielders Lalengmawia and Raynier Fernandes replacing Jeakson Singh and Borges.

And, India equalised five minutes before the hour mark. Bipin Singh sent in a delicious cross from the right flank, which was headed home by Manvir.

Oman, ranked 81st as compared to India’s 104th in the FIFA charts, then pressed hard for the winning goal. But, Amrinder was impressive under the bar as he made two fine saves in the 63rd and 65th minutes. India will play its second international friendly against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) here on Monday.