Guwahati, Sep 5 : In a near-repeat of a similar qualifier for the last FIFA World Cup, India lost 2-1 to Oman at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium here on Thursday.
Cheered by a near-capacity crowd of close to 23,000 spectators, the Indians were the first to score and dominated most of the match with some wonderful play. But two late goals by midfielder Al Mandhar ensured that the visitors ended on the winning side.
The Indian captain, Sunil Chhetri, was quick to put his team on the driver's seat as he netted a free kick by Brandon Fernandes in the 24th minute of the match.
It was the 72nd goal for Sunil for the national team. The Oman team, started as the favorites, made several attempts to score, but some quick work from Indian goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu ensured the ball missed the nets.
However, Al Mandhar managed to sneak past the Indian side twice at the 82nd and 90th minutes to hand his team the victory. Today's match was the launch of India's campaign for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup.
India had played Oman at the same stage in 2018, when it had lost 1-2, with Sunil scored the lone goal for India.
After today's match, the head-to-head between the two teams stand at five victories for Oman, one for India and two draws. UNI