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Football: Impressive India earn 1-1 draw with Oman in Dubai

(Indian Football Team Twitter)
(Indian Football Team Twitter)

Dubai - India head coach Igor Stimac handed international debuts to 10 players


Published: Thu 25 Mar 2021, 11:47 PM

Last updated: Fri 26 Mar 2021, 12:00 AM

Manvir Singh and Amrinder Singh played crucial roles for India on their return to international football after 492 days as the Blue Tigers were held to a 1-1 draw by Oman in Dubai on Thursday.

Manvir jumped enough to nod in Bipin Singh's cross in the second half, cancelling out a first-half strike by Oman. Amrinder had a stellar game, saving a penalty, and making numerous saves to deny the Omani forwards a second goal.

India head coach Igor Stimac handed international debuts to as many as 10 players -- Akash Mishra, Ashutosh Mehta, Chinglensana Singh, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Bipin Singh, and Jeakson Singh were the debutants who started the match while Lalengmawia Ralte, Yasir Mohammad, Ishan Pandita, and Mashoor Shereef got their debuts from the bench.

With 10 debuts, Stimac became the first Blue Tigers head coach to hand the most number of maiden international caps in a single match, in this century.

Stephen Constantine, previously held this record, handing out seven debuts in India's game against Nepal on March 12, 2015.

Oman captain Abdulaziz Maqbali was adjudged to have been brought down inside the Indian penalty area, and the referee pointed to the spot in the 26th minute. Abdulaziz stepped up to take the spot-kick, but India custodian Amrinder Singh dived to his right to make a fine save and keep India on level terms.

With a little over 10 minutes left of regulation time in the first half, Suresh Singh made a good interception in the Oman third and played Bipin through into the box. But the forward ran into traffic as the danger was averted by the Oman defence.

Oman breached the Indian resistance in the 43rd minute, when Chinglensana Singh attempted to block a cross from the left by Al Akhbari. While the Indian defender managed to get a foot onto the cross, the deflection, in the melee, hit Amrinder and trickled over the Indian goal-line.

Oman came out with more intent in the second half, often making forays into the Blue Tigers' final third.

However, India hit back in the 55th minute, when Ashutosh Mehta made a clever interception in the opposition half, soared up the right wing, and played Bipin into the box.

The latter lobbed in a cross aimed at Manvir, who came up with a perfect header, nodding the ball into the ground and past the goal-keeper, putting India on level terms.

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