A flurry of goals in the second half put paid to India’s hopes of qualifying for the AFC U-22 Championships, as they lost their final qualifying tie 4-0 against hosts Oman at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Tuesday.
Hamood Saleh Said Al Sadi put the Al-Ahmar ahead 9 minutes into the second half, before Raed Ibrahim Saleh doubled the tally in the 67th minute. Goals from Mohammed Saleh Hadid Al Mukhaini in the 75th minute and Mubarak Humaid Mubarak Al-Maqbali in the 89th minute gave a emphatic look to the final scoreline in Oman’s favour
As has been the case for the entire competition, India started strongly, pressing high up the pitch. Lalrindika Ralte earned the first real opportunity of the game, but his effort from a freekick came back off the wall, with Manandeep Singh’s follow up effort producing a strong save from Omani keeper Mazin Masaud Darwish Al-Kasbi.
The keeper proved to be the difference between the two sides, as he yet again thwarted the former Arrows forward, who couldn’t produce a finish to match his initial dribbling skills.
The Omanis looked to Raed Ibrahim Saleh for inspiration, but by the time the referee blew the half-time whistle, Saleh and his team-mates had barely made a dent in India’s defense.
However the second half proved to be a different ball game, as 9 minutes into the second half, Hamood Saleh tapped the ball in after some brilliant work by Abdullah Saleh.
He almost doubled the tally soon afterwards, but his header came crashing off the ball.
Having bought on Jeje Lalpekhlua in the second half inplace of Romeo Fernandes, the task got even tougher for the Indian side when Ibrahim sneaked in down the right wing and took advantage of the space afforded to him, to score his side’s second goal.
Manandeep then saw his header miss the target by a whisker before Saleh Hadid wrapped up the points for the hosts, as he scored off the rebound, after Gurpreet Singh Sandhu had saved his initial effort from the penalty spot, which was awarded when Pranay Halder bought down Badar Nasib in the box in the 75th minute.
Mubarak Humaid completed the scoring in the 89th minute, as he put the finishing touches to a counter-attack off an Indian corner, to ensure that Oman finish above India in the group.
The loss, India’s second in the Group, means that the Blue Tigers end their campaign with 7 points from 5 games, while Al-Ahmar finish with 10 points from the same number of matches.