November 20, 2019 9:27:20 pm
The lack of goals and defensive mid-fielder Pronay Halder’s substitution due to a shoulder injury “killed” India in their FIFA World Cup qualifier against Oman here, feels coach Igor Stimac.
India’s hope of getting a positive result was dashed when Halder and Adil Khan had to be substituted inside the first 40 minutes owing to injuries.
Pronay, who suffered a shoulder injury, was replaced by Vinit Rai in the 27th minute while the coach introduced Anas Edathodika after withdrawing Khan in the 36th minute.
Stimac said, “Today, our only player who is a tough tackler (Pronay) suffered a shoulder injury. He was the main player who could fight for the second ball and his absence killed us in the second half.”
India lost the match 0-1.
The Croat added at the post-match press conference, “When you are forced to make two substitutions due to injuries in the first half, it upsets the team. You need to compromise with the work which you have done before the game and it reduces your chances to tweak with your plan in the second half.
“Even I was hesitant to make the third change thinking of another injury which could have happened anytime. It was a big risk and we are facing this for long.”
Following the result, India’s position in Group E remained unchanged with three points from five matches. They are now scheduled to face reigning AFC Asian Cup champions Qatar at home in the return leg on March 26 next year.
Stimac admitted that the lack of goals has been affecting his team.
“We were the better side in the second half but couldn’t find the way to score a goal. This is our main problem which has been haunting us always.
“We are moving well, we are fighting, we are doing what’s necessary but when we come inside the box, the decision making is not at par and the accuracy is not there as well. We need to get used to this, cut the numbers of mistakes down and try to get better results in the future,” he said.
The head coach wants his team to “play without fear” against any opponent they face.
“I want my India (team) to play without fear against anyone. Irrespective of whoever you are playing against, you always have a chance to win the game. We need to grab that,” Stimac stated.
“If you are trying to change (your gameplan) according to your opponents, it shows your team’s weakness — which is the last thing I would want for my team. We stick to our system and we are working on the players’ strengths and conditioning.”
Muhsen Al Ghassani fired the solitary goal of the match in the 33rd minute in front of a 24,000-odd-strong crowd.
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