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2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Oman's Erwin Koeman - India deserved the 1-0 lead

6:44 PM WAT 05/09/2019
Erwin Koeman Fenerbahce
The former Everton assistant feels that Oman were not at their best in the 2-1 win over India

Oman kicked off their 2022 World Cup qualifier campaign with a 2-1 win over India at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Thursday.

Although Sunil Chhetri broke the deadlock in the 24th minute with India dominating proceedings in the first half, a late brace from Al Alawi Al-Mandhar (82', 90') took the game away from the hosts and provided Oman with all three points.

The coach of the visitors, Erwin Koeman, was happy with the result but not the team’s performance. He appreciated India’s first-half performance and admitted they were unlucky to lose.

"I have to be honest India played a good first half. I was disappointed about my team at half time because we made too many mistakes. Our goalkeeper (Faiyz Al Rusheidi) had a difficult game. But a lot of the players didn't play according to our normal level. India deserved the 1-0 in the first half. In the second half, the game changed," Koeman observed.

"We were aggressive, created chances. Of course, if they scored a second goal the game was over. We made some changes, putting an attacking midfielder and we then scored two fantastic goals. Mandhar is a fantastic player with great movements. You saw how he did today. It was two different games in two halves. We are yet to start the league so physically we weren't at our best," he added.

With Oman turning the game around in their favour in the last 10 minutes, the Dutchman stressed the importance of maintaining a proper fitness level.

"We do a lot, fitness-wise but can't do that every day. Both the countries' leagues start late. The Oman league starts on September 14, Indian league starts later. Hopefully, things will change so that we are ready for the qualifiers. 

"The first half was not the level Oman (should have) played," he reiterated. "We can play good short passes. We made too many mistakes today. In football, you can play nice technical short balls but sometimes you have to play the passes (in behind) the defenders."

Commenting on the quality of Indian players, Koeman said, "They have several good players including Ashique [Kuruniyan]. It's such a big country with so many people you have to have good players and you have good players. They are growing well. I liked several players in the Indian team. If they had a little bit of luck they could have won."