India kicked off their world cup 2018 campaign with a style but ultimately lost 1-2 to Oman in Bangalore. Watching this match reminded me of two previous matches where India played the same bad-ass way.
In 2001, for 2002 world cup qualifiers, India had defeated UAE by 1-0 margin in Bangalore. That goal by Jules Alberto and the spirit by which the team played was just awesome.
In 2011 Asian Cup at Doha, India lost 0-4 to the mighty Australia but that didn’t stop them to be admired by the Asian spectators who had never seen India playing so ruthlessly. Australia had players like Tim Cahill who were playing in EPL. And Indian players still gave a tough fight.
Coming back in today’s match, the Blue tigers were in an attacking mode for some part of the match. They were seen in a heavy defensive mode during the beginning of the second half. But they started being attacking right from 75’. The last 15 minutes saw India playing with Oman like they were playing any weak Asian opponent. The major advantage the Omanese team had was the 2-1 lead which ultimately paid them.
But there was a huge drawback also. Even though Goalkeeper Subrata Paul was awesome in his job and Defenders Arnab Mondal and Sityasen Singh was also in a good form, the team lacked proper striker. Sunil Chhetri, the torch bearer of Indian football scored the lone goal for India. India lately has become huge Chhetri dependant. This has indirectly affecting the game where once Chhetri is man marked, the game turns towards the opponents. Robin Singh even though is very efficient when playing for club, has failed again in becoming the successor of Chhetri.
Players like Lalkamal Bhowmik, an attacking midfielder, have always been ignored and there is very less chance he will be included in recent future. With the lack of an efficient striker apart from Chhetri, the national team is going to pay a heavy price.
Another drawback is the lack of international matches. In the last season India has played 2 international matches whereas Oman has played 16. Now the lack of proper vision and professionalism among the AIFF officials is causing tremendous negative affect for the team. Had India played opponents like Algeria or Egypt for their practice matches or even a tour to USA to play against MLS clubs would have been effective for the preparation.
Hope the team practices well enough to show the opponents that the team has potentiality to defeat teams like Oman and Iran in future matches.