India hold Oman 1-1

Dubai, Mar 25 (Agencies): Manvir Singh and Amrinder Singh played crucial roles for the Blue Tigers in their return to International football after a gap of 492 days, as India were held to a 1-1 draw by Oman at the Maktoum Bin Rashid Stadium in Dubai, UAE, on Thursday (March 25).

Manvir Singh rose highest to nod in Bipin Singh’s cross in the second half, cancelling out a first half strike by Oman. Amrinder had a stellar game, saving a penalty, and making numerous saves to deny the Omani forwards a second goal.India head coach Igor Stimac handed International debuts to as many as 10 players – Akash Mishra, Ashutosh Mehta, Chinglensana Singh, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Bipin Singh and Jeakson Singh were the debutants who started the match, while Lalengmawia Ralte, Yasir Mohammad, Ishan Pandita, and Mashoor Sharif got their respective debuts from the bench.

With 10 debuts, Igor Stimac became the Blue Tigers head coach to hand the most number of maiden International caps in a single match, in this century. Stephen Constantine, previously held this record, handing out seven debuts in India’s game against Nepal on March 12, 2015.

Despite the fact that Oman started off on the front foot, India got a couple of early chances, when a throw-in by Ashutosh Mehta from deep inside the Oman half found Manvir, whose shot on the turn was deflected out of play. Sandesh Jhingan got in a decent effort from the resulting Bipin Singh corner, but it was off target.Around the quarter hour mark, Oman had a good chance to take the lead when Amjad Al Harthi penetrated the India box from the right and sent in a low cross towards Abdullah Abdulghafur, but the latter’s effort was blocked thanks to a last-ditch tackle by Ashutosh Mehta.

Ashique Kuruniyan made a foray down the left in the 19th minute, and layed it off for Akash Mishra on the overlap. The young fullback sent in a cross aimed at Manvir Singh, but it was cleared by the Oman defence.Oman captain Abdulaziz Maqbali was adjudged to have been brought down inside the Indian penalty area, as the referee pointed to the spot in the 26th minute.