India is all set to launch its joint qualifying campaign for FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 when they take on the stronger Oman side at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on September 4.
The Indian team will not only seek to begin it’s campaign on a winning note, but also hope to register its first ever victory against Oman.
Indian head coach Igor Stimac, addressing a press conference on match eve, said the team was prepared to take on any challenge. He said, “The preparations for the game went really well and as a coach, I am happy. This will be our third campaign and I am happy with the improvement in the team in terms of the understanding levels of the players and their fitness levels. We are well concentrated and well prepared”.
“Our aim for tomorrow will be to be strong and organized. In our previous games, we have shown that we can handle good teams and play organized for the full 90 minutes. We may have conceded a few goals but we have shown that we can play better against better opponents,” he added.
India’s star forward Sunil Chhetri, who has scored 71 goals in 111 appearances, said, “There is a great eagerness in the team and one really feel the pulse of excitement among the boys. We are really looking forward to the game. We had a great training camp and everyone in the team is fit and hungry. The players are gelling well and responding to what the coach expects from them.”
Sunil was the lone scorer for India in a 2-1 loss against Oman in a similar qualifying match for FIFA World Cup 2018.
The last meeting between the two teams was in a friendly match in December last year that ended in a goalless draw. India, who is ranked at 103 against 87th rank of the opponent, has never won a single match against Oman in their ten encounters so far, with Oman winning seven and three ending in draws.
After facing Oman, India will travel to Doha to face Qatar in their next FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifier on September 10. Afghanistan and Bangladesh are the other two teams that make up Group E.