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India mark their return to international Football with a draw against Oman

The Blue Tigers were back on the pitch after a gap of 492 days against Oman in an international friendly. The Indian football team played out a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Oman at the Maktoum Bin Rashid Stadium in Dubai, UAE on March 25, 2021.

It was in November 2019 that the Blue Tigers last played at the international arena — in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against Afghanistan (in Tajikistan) and Oman (in Muscat).

Manvir Singh and Amrinder Singh played crucial roles in the match

104 rank India was up against Oman, currently ranked 81 in the FIFA ranking. The first half of the match was dominated by the Oman Nationa team as they managed to strike a goal in the 1st half. Oman breached the Indian resistance in the 43rd minute when Chinglensana Singh attempted to block a cross from the left by Al Akhbari.

While the Indian defender managed to get a foot onto the cross, the deflection hit Amrinder and the ball trickled over the Indian goal-line.

But in the second half, Bipin Singh lobbed in a cross to Manvir Singh, who came up with a perfect header, nodding the ball into the ground and past the keeper, scoring an equalizer for India. Amrinder had a stellar game in which he saved a penalty, and made numerous saves to deny the Omani forwards a second goal.

Most number of maiden International caps in a single match

The contest was interesting for the debutant as the match created history for the Indian football team. 10 players made their debut for the international team as Indian head coach Igor Stimac handed the most number of maiden International caps in a single match in this century.

10 Debutants were – 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 Shereef got their respective debuts from the bench.

Stephen Constantine, previously held this record who handed out seven debuts in India’s game against Nepal on March 12, 2015.

A Paradigm Shift in Indian Football

Indian Football has adopted a new approach towards squad building. The combination of young athletes with experience is a perfect balance for a team. The changing paradigm of international Football has always suggested that the teams are choosing young sides with enough experience in recent times and a perfect example for that is Germany.

Smooth transition to the higher levels is a major issue for young players. But India has worked on that, if you look at the U-17 World Cup squad members, the boys never had to rethink twice about their future, as a smooth transition was facilitated for them – first with the Indian Arrows, and subsequently the U-19 National Team.

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