India faces a strong Oman at the opening of the World Cup qualifiers

GUWAHATI: India will again admire the talisman Sunil Chhetri when they open their 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against Oman on coach Thursday Igor Stimac The biggest test so far.

Member of the Croatian team that reached the semifinals of the 1998 World Cup, Stimac is undoubtedly one of the highest profile names that India has managed, but the start has not been impressive.

A third place in the Copa del Rey in Thailand was followed by an uninspiring exit at the Intercontinental Cup at home where Stimac experimented.

The task will only become more difficult in the coming months and the Croatian is aware of the challenges facing his team currently classified 103.

He acknowledged that Oman, along with Qatar, are the group's two big favorites.

Realistically, Qatar and Oman are the favorites in our group. We have never won an official match (qualifying for the World Cup) against any of them. Therefore, it will not be easy. In Guwahati we are going to give our all to launch, with the aim of winning, Stimac said.

Being clubbed with the 2022 World Cup hosts in the second qualifying round of Asia helps, since a second place behind Qatar will see India in the third qualifying round.

That is why the two games at home and away against the 87th ranked team, starting with the one at Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, gain importance.

The hosts were hit a few days before the opening game and the young midfielder Amarjit Singh Kiyam was ruled out due to an injury.

The 18-year-old, who captained India in the U-17 World Cup at home two years ago, was the only player to appear in all five games since the appointment of Stimac.

His absence from the defense, where Sandesh Jhingan You are looking for a strong ally, you will be missed.

Jhingan is ready to have Rahul Bheke as a partner of Pritam Kotal on the right and Subhasish Bose on the left.

The always reliable Udanta Singh will lead the midfield alongside the young Sahal Abdul Samad, Anirudh Thapa and Lallianzuala Chhangte .

With Stimac preferring a 4-2-3-1 formation instead of the 4-4-2 of his predecessor Stephen Constantine, Chhetri, 35, will become the only man in advance with Ashique Kuruniyan playing behind one of the maxima international soccer scorers. .

Like India, Oman also has a new manager in Dutch Erwin Koeman, who took his players to Germany for a three-week conditioning camp while playing with local teams.

The 34-year-old midfielder Ahmed Kano will be a vital gear in the team that reached the knockout stages of the Asian Cup earlier this year.

Koeman also summoned the young striker Arshad Al Alawi, who was one of the leading stars of the 2016 AFC U-16 Championship.

Ahmed Mubarak and Ibrahim Saleh will organize the center of the visitors' field, with Mohammed Al-Ghassini playing in advance.

India lost its two games against Oman in the same stage during the qualification for the 2018 World Cup.