Team India played an international game after a long wait of over 16 months! This time around we witnessed a whole new fabric in the National setup, woven with a blend of youth coupled up with experience.
The Blue Tigers stepped into the game with six new faces, Half a Dozen Debutants! Young stalwarts in the likes of Jeakson Singh, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Akash Mishra got to play their maiden game for the National Team, whereas the wait finally got over for Ashutosh Mehta, Chinglensana Singh and Bipin Singh as they earned their coveted spot.
The game started with Team India having it’s back to the wall within no time. The Omanis were bombarding in attacks, one after the other but Captain Sandesh Jhingan was on his toes, marshaling the defence valiantly.
Although the back four looked clueless at times, the midfield trio of Borges – Suresh – Jeakson were giving enough time to the opponents leaving pockets of space unmanned. Team Oman was quick to find their golden chance as the ball was kicked into the back of the net because of a scramble between Amrinder and Sana. The own goal couldn’t subdue the spirited Indians as they came back harder in the second half.
Coach Igor Stimac, being cognizant of the midfield conundrum, brought in Raynier and Apuia after the halftime which actually changed the course for the Blue Tigers. Apuia spurted in the much needed transitivity alongside Suresh who was a livewire throughout.
Soon after all the revaluations, a counter attacking Bipin slotted a curving ball right into the box which was headed in by the in-form Manvir Singh. The Golden header which brought India on level terms was quintessential as it boosted the morale overall. Sana and Ashutosh finally found their feet in the right places with some crucial blocks and clearances.
Overall the second half was way better in comparison, we could actually see some hints of build-up play from the back. Ashique Kuruniyan seemed to be a better placed Left back, maybe because of his physical presence and Yasir chipped in with some decent contributions.
Reinforcements were subbed in towards the end where Ishan Pandita and Lallianzuala Chhangte got few minutes under their belt. A special mention, Amrinder Singh was a man on mission, having saved a penalty and a couple more shots on target, the ISL winner proved his mettle in the National colors.
Lots of positives to bank on, lot more avenues to work upon, the New India looks promising as they eye on their upcoming challenge as they lock horns with the hosts UAE on 29th March.
“There is another game now and I need to give a chance to other players who didn’t play today (Thursday), which is why we are here. In a month, we will start from scratch and I need to find out what they can do against such sides,” were the parting words from Coach Stimac.