Bengaluru, November 18: India are in a spot of bother as they take on Oman in the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Zone qualifiers at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex Stadium in Muscat on Tuesday (November 19).
Winless in Group E, after three draws and a loss, India are languishing fourth in the table with just three points while Oman are second with nine from four matches.
AFC Asian Cup 2019 champions and 2022 FIFA World Cup hosts Qatar are on top with 10 points from four matches.
If India lose, they will trail Oman by nine points and have only three matches, with a maximum of nine points on offer, left to play in this second round of the qualifiers.
India's remaining matches are against Qatar at home (March 26, 2020), Bangladesh (away, June 4) and Afghanistan (home, June 9).
Oman's form on home soil has certainly been impressive, scoring seven goals in two wins and that should be another cause of concern for India, whose inability to convert the chances have cost the team dear so far.
The eight group winners and four best runners-up will advance to the the final round of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 as well as AFC Asian Cup 2023 to be held in China.
However, should Qatar - who have qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup by virtue of being the hosts - win their group, the seven other group winners and five best second-placed sides will advance to the final round of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
At home India had lost to Oman in September, with Erwin Koeman's side snatching a 2-1 win having trailed with eight minutes remaining in Guwahati. India will be hoping to turn things around, though the job is easier said than done.
After the heart-breaking loss to Oman, they held formidable Qatar in their own den before requiring late equalisers in their identical 1-1 draws against minnows Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
An upset win over Oman will certainly keep Igor Stimac's side in the hunt for a next round berth but a loss will virtually send India out of reckoning as far as the Road to Qatar 2022 is concerned.
Stimac's side has struggled not just in defence but four matches into this campaign, it is also clear that its offence is also not in the best of form.
As ever, the Blue Tigers will rely on the talismanic Sunil Chhetri, who has called on his team-mates to remain disciplined in a match he has designated as a 'must not lose'.
Senior central defender Anas Edathodika who returned home before the Afghanistan match due to a family bereavement, will continue to remain unavailable while the team has already lost the services of Sandesh Jhingan, Rowling Borges and Amarjit Singh due to injuries.
Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Dheeraj Singh Moirangthem,
Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Nishu Kumar, Rahul Bheke, Narender, Adil Khan, Sarthak Golui, Subhasish Bose, Mandar Rao Dessai,
Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Jackichand Singh, Seiminlen Doungel, Raynier Fernandes, Vinit Rai, Sahal Abdul Samad, Pronay Halder, Anirudh Thapa, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Brandon Fernandes, Ashique Kuruniyan,
Strikers: Sunil Chhetri, Manvir Singh, Farukh Choudhary.
Head-to-head; TV info
India have not won any of the 11 matches they have played against Oman who have emerged victorious on eight occasions with the remaining three ending in stalemate.
The match to be held at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex Stadium in Muscat, kicks off at 8.30 pm IST (7pm local time).
It will be shown live on Star Sports 1/Star Sports 2 with live streaming available on Hotstar.