Head coach Igor Stimac has admitted that he cried after watching the footage of India’s loss to Oman in the opening match of their 2022 World Cup Qualifiers. The Blue Tigers are still on the hunt for their first win, with Oman also looking to complete a double over them in the qualifiers.
India currently sit fourth in Group E of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers (Asian Region), having failed to win a single match in their campaign so far, with just one point to their name. But, the situation could have been quite different if the Blue Tigers had managed to hold on to the 1-0 lead against Oman in the opening match of the qualifiers back in September 2019.
The Blue Tigers were hosting the Gulf nation at the Indira Gandhi National Stadium, in Guwahati, with the visitors outright favourites to clinch victory. But, a 24th-minute strike from legendary footballer Sunil Chhetri handed India the lead. Yet, then having parried the flurry of attacks from Oman until the final stages of the game, Al Mandhar Al Alawi netted twice to snatch away full points from the fixture.
Now, India are set to face Oman once again, in an international friendly on Thursday in Dubai. It has seen Blue Tigers' head coach Igor Stimac admit that he is still haunted by the turn of events in that game, with him recalling how he cried after watching the footage of India’s loss on an unfortunate evening in Guwahati.
“When I looked back at earlier matches, I cried a few times. That first match (against Oman) was crucial, that match was going to determine whether we are going to fight for first two positions in group (and qualify for next round),” said Igor Stimac, during a virtual press conference.
“As it happened, with bad luck or inexperience (of players) in such important games, we fell down and that was something I always cry about. I felt sorry, not for myself because I have faced similar situations during my career, but for the players,” added the Croat.