A strategy of an attacking game on-the-counter is something that needs patience, perseverance and an organised game as the lack of ball possession can just back-fire and over-dependence on chances may not come good. And that precisely was witnessed at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex in Muscat on Tuesday night, as India's lacklustre and listless game was exposed by Oman who launched a series of attack and created enough pressure in the match to win the qualifier 1-0.
India was rather lucky not to have lost the match by a bigger margin as the host missed several chances including a penalty in the 7th minute. With this, all hope and any outside chance of visitor's qualifying for FIFA World Cup 2022 were dashed as India remained winless even after five matches. India needed to pull off a victory in this match to stay in contention and one expected more intent, purpose and sting in the midfield and attack but their presence and game plan were seriously found wanting.
Muhsen Al Ghassani, who missed a penalty in the 7th minute with a shot over the post, redeemed himself to draw first blood for Oman in the 33rd minute when he put a cross from the left to tap it through the right of goalie Gurpreet as the host lead 1-0 at the breather. India put up a much-spirited display in the second half, but midfield's lack of imagination and penetrating skills meant the score remained unaltered.