Abu Dhabi : India finished their preparations for the upcoming Asian Cup Football Championship by holding a superior Oman to a goalless draw in their final warm-up game.
India, currently ranked 97th in the FIFA rankings, held their own against the 82nd-ranked Oman by creating a few chances while both goalkeepers Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Amrinder Singh pulled off a few good saves to keep the scoresheet clean.
Oman had earlier won three games on the trot before the Blue Tigers stopped their juggernaut. Coach Stephen Constantine gave a chance to most of his players during the warm-up game which was played closed doors in order to keep cards close to his chest.
India’s first attempt at the Oman citadel was in the 17th minute when Sunil Chhetri tried a long ranger from the top of the box but it sailed over. The Indian team made a few raids at the stroke of half an hour, earning a couple of free-kicks but Oman’s defence was equal to the task.
The Blue Tigers earned their first corner in the 42nd minute but Aniruddh Thapa’s corner didn’t create much danger. Constantine rung in three changes after the first 45 minutes. Reserve striker Balwant Singh came in the second half in place of Jeje Lalpheklhua, who was largely ineffective during the first 45 minutes. Germanpreet Singh was also introduced in place of first choice defensive screen Pronay Halder while Gurpreet replaced Amrinder under the bar. True to his reputation, Gurpreet thwarted what looked like a sure-shot goal with a terrific save in the 52nd minute. India tried to hit on the counter in the 58th minute when Udanta Singh sped past a defender to set one up for Balwant, who failed to react timely. Udanta was a livewire down wide right as he raced down to send a cross but the Oman goalkeeper gathered before Chhetri could meet the delivery.
India’s best chance came in the 77th minute when left winger Ashique Karuniyan kept an assist for Balwant, who set up a sitter for Udanta but his shot missed the target by a whisker. Oman did create an opportunity during the final moments but Gurpreet was equal to the task to prevent any damage.