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2022 World Cup Qualifiers: Henry Menezes - There is hope for India

18:49 BST 05/09/2019
Ashique Kuruniyan India Oman WCQ
The former India international was impressed with the way the Blue Tigers played against Oman but was unhappy with the team's fitness...

India succumbed to a heartbreaking 1-2 defeat against Oman in Guwahati after staying in the lead till the 82nd minute of the match. 

In a tale of two halves, India commanded proceedings in the first half of the match and were in front thanks to Sunil Chhetri's strike in the 24th minute. 

On India's first-half performance, speaking to Goal, former Indian football team goalkeeper and Western India Football Association (WIFA) CEO Henry Menezes said, "We played very well in the first half and in the second-half two defensive mistakes cost us the game. The sad story after 75 minutes continues. But I was very impressed by the first touch of the players.

"The lack of fitness was also a problem. When Oman started attacking all-out we were giving away balls. Thapa looked jaded in the last 15 minutes. It was a loss of focus from [Rahul] Bheke but he will improve with experience."

Henry was particularly impressed with the speed and agility of youngsters like Udanta Singh, Ashique Kuruniyan and Lallianzuala Chhangte.

"Oman showed their quality but at the same time, I would say that it was a huge performance from India. In midfield, they showed their composure. We were not afraid to pass the ball and were creating the breakaways. Ashique was very impressive. We had our chances and we could have sealed the game in the first half. We have speed on the wings in Udanta and Chhangte and that is a huge advantage for us," he stated.

India will now take on the reigning Asian Cup champions Qatar on September 10 in Doha. After a spirited show against Oman, Menezes is hopeful about a good show against the mighty Qataris. 

"We have to try and play well in Qatar. Let us experience the quality of Qatar and then try to match them. We matched Oman in every department. We were at the same level for most parts of the match. We had the pace and with the number of chances we created in the first half, we should have killed the match. But we are seeing a new flair in the Indian team which is very heartening. And over time we will gain more experience and that would make us even better. There's a lot of hope with the way we played today (Thursday)," Menezes signed out.