India started their 2022 World Cup qualifiers campaign with a 1-2 defeat to Oman at home. Sunil Chhetri opened the scoring for the hosts but The Reds bounced back in the last 10 minutes to complete an impressive comeback.
India boss Igor Stimac opined that his team deserved more from the game. He admitted that they could have scored more goals in the first half but were unlucky.
“It is very sad. We deserved more from this game. I don't know why we were punished. We could have scored many goals in the first half and killed the game. But we were unlucky. I don't blame anyone. Congratulations to Oman for keeping solid and using experience,” he said.
“I think my players made everyone proud. The way played they ran we have to be proud. We knew there would be a few problems, a couple of players came back from injury. Both Ashique (Kuruniyan) and Sandesh (Jhingan) came back from injury and were not fit for 90 mins.
“In the last 15 minutes, there were a few weaknesses in the defence because of that. But overall it was a new-look India team and we will do well. Time will come when we will kill the games and not miss chances.
The Croatian dismissed claims that a lack of fitness among Indian players cost them the game. He felt that experience won Oman the game while his team paid for poor positioning. He also stated that the Blue Tigers are ready to challenge Qatar in the next game, well aware that they start as underdogs.
“The players are already motivated. We have to forget about this game and start preparing for Qatar. Qatar are obviously best in Asia but we have to believe in ourselves.
“The boys are ready for 90 minutes, they can run for 90 minutes. But the way of running is important. When you are in the lead you have to keep the ball and not run with them. But they will learn. My boys were fitter than them but they were more experienced.
“The defenders were wrongly positioned. We didn't close down and allowed the number 10 to cross. It was a silly goal to concede,” he concluded.