Blue Tigers braced for away clash against Oman

India’s next fixture in the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup joint qualifiers will be against Oman at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex Stadium in Muscat on Tuesday. Despite a last-gasp Seiminlen Doungel equaliser, Igor Stimac’s men didn’t get the result they wanted in their last match against Afghanistan and will be looking for a positive result when they face Oman on Tuesday.

However, that will be easier said than done considering the kind of talent Oman have within their ranks. The Reds beat India in the reverse fixture played in Guwahati and are second in Group E with nine points from four matches. The Blue Tigers, in fact, have never won against Oman, losing six and drawing two of the eight matches played between the two nations so far.

“Yes, numbers say that (Oman) are favourites but it all will start from scratch tomorrow,” Adil Khan said when addressing Oman’s superior head-to-head record against India. “Their attackers can do anything on a given day and we have to be on our toes throughout,” he added.

Captain Sunil Chhetri insisted that the Blue Tigers are ready to give it their all. “These are the qualifiers and we have only one thing in our mind, which is to go out and give everything that we have and take the result. I mean the important point is to go and play well, especially in the away matches. We won’t think about revenge (for the match we lost to them at Guwahati) or anything close to that, absolutely not. At the end of the day, the points matter. It’s not a derby as they are not our neighbours.”

Full-back Pritam Kotal, meanwhile, felt that the Gulf nation had more to their side apart from Al Mandhar, who scored both goals for Oman in their 2-1 win over India at the start of September. “It's not only Al Mandhar, other attackers like Al Alwai, Al Ghassani and everyone can impose equal danger to a defence. They are quick, they switch positions fast and can score from distance. We have to be extra cautious of their long-range shots,” he said.

Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu also shared his view on the upcoming tie, stating, “Not losing a game away from home is our priority right now. It’s always difficult playing away from home and we recognise the threats (from Oman) given their ability and strength. We have to make sure we deal with them well.”

Read the Match Preview here.

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