INDIA-OMAN FRIENDLY MATCH: A TALE OF TWO HALVES - The Daily Guardian
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INDIA-OMAN FRIENDLY MATCH: A TALE OF TWO HALVES

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International Football allows you time to recover, yet somewhere down the line you feel maybe it isn’t enough. It was only the other day that India played against Oman in the first of the two International Friendlies where it ended 1-1.

It was then—a kind of a match where it was a tale of two halves. A dominant Oman, and a holding India in the first half while a confident India came out of their shells to take the fight back to “physical and a tactical” Oman in the second half.

The second International Friendly against the UAE at the Zabeel Stadium in Dubai is on Monday (29 March), the kick-off of which is at IST 8.30 pm (local time 7 pm). 

“In the second half, we showed that there is nothing to fear. These are better sides. When you play against teams in the top 100, the difference in 25 to 30 spots in rankings means a lot. There is still a big difference between the UAE and us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t achieve the result,” mentioned Head Coach Igor Stimac.

The rankings suggest that while India is currently at 104, UAE stays strong at 74 while Oman is at 81. The last time India played UAE was in the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019 where the Blue Tigers went down 0-2.

“The match against the UAE will be a different game. I need to give chances to the other players. We have important games coming up in June and need to assess all the players,” stated Igor hinting there will be quite some changes in the starting XI. India had fielded 10 debutants in the match against Oman. Despite it is the last week in March, Dubai has been surprisingly pleasant. There’s always a cool breeze blowing across post the sunset, keeping the mercury in check. “There have been storms nearby, even rain in some nearby areas,” a local at the team hotel informs.

Goalkeeper Amrinder Singh, who kept off a penalty in the first match, is quick to point out that “great things are happening in Indian football.”

“So many youngsters coming is such a healthy sign. Where else do you have 10 debutants playing an International Friendly? These are signs of transition that define the sport in the country. And if you look back, all of them faced Oman in their first International match. That’s very meticulous planning. The experience will only make them better players,” he narrated.

“At the International level against any team, we need to be physically and mentally fit. UAE is a physical team too. The lesser mistakes we make, the higher chances we have to win it. The team making lesser mistakes will eventually go on to win,” added Amrinder.

Striker Manvir Singh, who scored India’s equaliser against Oman stated, “It was tough to break Oman as they were extremely compact.”

“I knew that as a striker I wouldn’t be getting many chances. Hence, when Bipin looked up, I sprinted like anything to be in the position to meet the ball. He kept it perfectly, and I managed to head it home,” Manvir smiled referring to his goal.

“We are high on confidence after drawing against Oman. UAE is very comfortable with the ball. We are aware that despite the crowd not being there, the UAE will enjoy a psychological advantage as they will be playing at home. But the game is not over till it is over,” he stressed.

The practice sessions at Dubai Sports City have been intense ones. Igor has been very demanding from his players, running from one end to the other to explain, demonstrate, and correct their positioning. The next moment he blows his whistle, and his wards are on it for another time, and then again for another time. The process is continuous.

Central defender Chinglensana Singh, one of the debutants against Oman, maintained, “We created chances in the second half but we need to physically improve as a team.”

“Sandesh is so aggressive yet calm on the field. I have been following him closely and it was quite an experience to be pairing up with him. Against UAE, we will play to win. We are confident as a group. We need to play our game and that can make a difference,” stated Chinglensana.

As the team returns from training, Dubai glows brightly. The infra is majestic and one fails to keep track of the numerous turns on the street, cars speeding at an average of 120 kmph. The chauffeur points out, “There was nothing around this junction some two years back—all were vacant. You need time to build, and look at it now—new swanky buildings, malls, complexes, and so green.” The 10 debutants have just started their international career. Witness some more from them on Monday.

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Olympics: Deepika Kumari bows out after losing to top-seed An San

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Star Indian archer Deepika Kumari bowed out of the ongoing Tokyo Olympics after losing to South Korea’s An San in the women’s individual quarter-finals here at Yumenoshima Park on Friday.

Top seed San defeated world number one Deepika in an absolutely dominating fashion 6-0 to march into the semi-finals of the individual event. 20-year-old San is aiming for her third gold medal at Tokyo after finishing top of the podium in the mixed team event and the women’s recurve team event. Korean An San had a brilliant start to the first round as she aimed at three 10s while Deepika shot 7-10-10. San carried that momentum in the second round and clinically shot 9-10-7 to which Indian responded with 10-7-7.

The dominance of the South Korean continued in the third set as she gathered 26 as opposed to 24 of Deepika. Match ended in less than six minutes. With this San will either face USA’s Mackenzie Brown or Mexico’s Alejandra Valencia in the last four.

Earlier in the day, Deepika defeated Russian Olympic Committee’s (ROC) Ksenia Perova to progress into the quarter-finals (6-5) in the 1/8 Eliminations round in the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

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YUZVENDRA CHAHAL AND GOWTHAM TEST POSITIVE IN SRI LANKA

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Three days after Krunal Pandya tested positive for COVID-19, it has come to light that spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and K. Gowtham have also tested positive for the virus in Sri Lanka.

Sources in the know of developments confirmed that the duo have tested positive for COVID-19. “Unfortunately, they have tested positive. They were close contacts of Krunal and were already away from the rest of the squad in the team hotel,” the source said. Krunal Pandya tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday and eight Indian players — Prithvi Shaw, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Yuzvendra Chahal, Deepak Chahar, Manish Pandey, Ishan Kishan, and K Gowtham were identified as close contacts.

Being close contacts of Krunal, they were staying away from the rest of the team and didn’t participate in the last two T20Is after Krunal’s test came positive.

Meanwhile, Wanindu Hasaranga’s four-wicket haul and Dhananjaya de Silva’s unbeaten 23-run knock helped Sri Lanka defeat India by seven wickets in the third and final T20I. With this win, Sri Lanka won the series 2-1.Sri Lanka won the T20I series while India had earlier won the ODI series.

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TOKYO OLYMPICS: NUMBER ONE SEED DJOKOVIC BOWS OUT, LOSES TO ZVEREV

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Number one seed Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic on Friday was knocked out of the men’s singles event in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics after losing the semi-final clash. Germany’s Alexander Zverev defeated Djokovic 1-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the men’s singles event.

As a result of this loss, Djokovic would not be able to achieve the Golden Slam (all four Grand Slams and Olympic gold) in the same year. Djokovic had brought out his A-game to the court in the first set, and he ended up winning it 6-1. However, disappointment followed for the Serbian as he lost two back-to-back sets and as a result, he bowed out of the tournament.

Djokovic had won the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon this year and now he would look to win the US Open, beginning August this year. Earlier, top seeds Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka were also knocked out of the Olympics.

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INDIA WOMEN’S HOCKEY TEAM BEAT IRELAND 1-0, KEEP QF HOPES ALIVE

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The Indian women’s hockey team defeated Ireland 1-0 here at the Oi Hockey Stadium North Pitch on Friday. As a result, India’s hopes of making it to the quarter-finals of the women’s hockey event remain intact.

Earlier, the Rani Rampal-led side had suffered defeats in its first three group-stage games. The first quarter between India and Ireland saw no goals and after the end of the first 15 minutes, the scoreline remained 0-0.

A similar story was on the offer in the second quarter and at the halftime mark, the scoreline remained the same and it was Rani Rampal’s side that was feeling the pressure going into the third quarter. The third quarter also saw no goals, however, Navneet Kaur finally broke the deadlock in the fourth quarter and she gave India a lead with three minutes left to play. In the end, India managed to hang on to the advantage to score a 1-0 victory.

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INDIA MEN’S HOCKEY TEAM FIRE ALL CYLINDERS, DEFEAT JAPAN 5-3

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A resilient Indian hockey team came firing on all cylinders to thrash Japan 5-3 in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics on Friday. This was India’s fourth win of the ongoing quadrennial event. The Men In Blue will next be in action in the quarter-finals of the mega event. Japan might have scored three goals but the Indian boys made sure the Men in Blue were in the lead throughout the game and dominated proceedings.

Just two minutes before the end of the third quarter, India earned their second Penalty Corner only to miss the net. But the Indians were in the lead (3-2) with one quarter to go. Both teams got off to a cautious start but the Manpreet Singh-led side broke the shackles and netted the first goal in the 13th minute.

Gurjant Singh then scored early in the second quarter as India doubled the lead over Japan. However, Japan came back with a goal as Tanaka opened the team’s account.

In the third quarter, Kota Watanabe scored an equaliser but Shamsher Singh again put India on top as he scored a goal in the 34th minute. At the end of the third essay, India led 3-2 with a thrilling final quarter on cards. In the final quarter, Nilakanta Sharma doubled India’s lead after a desperate attempt from both sides to find the net.

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TOKYO OLYMPICS: SINDHU DEFEATS YAMAGUCHI, GETS INTO SEMIS

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India shuttler P.V. Sindhu stormed into the semi-finals of the women’s singles event after defeating Japan’s number four seed Akane Yamaguchi in the quarterfinals here at the Musashino Forest Plaza Court 1 on Friday. Sindhu defeated Yamaguchi 21-13, 22-20. The quarterfinal clash between Sindhu and Yamaguchi lasted for 56 minutes.

The first game was more close than the scoreline suggested and Sindhu had to bring out the best in her to win it 21-13. The scoreline in the first game might not indicate how closely it was fought, but Yamaguchi made her fight for every point. The star Indian shuttler was just one more game away from progressing to the semi-finals.

Yamaguchi made Sindhu toil hard in the second game, and for every point, the Indian shuttler had to be at her best. In the end, the number six seed Sindhu ended up winning the match in straight games.

In the second game of the quarter-final, there was a 54-shot rally between Sindhu and Yamaguchi and it lasted for one minute and two seconds. On Thursday, Sindhu had defeated Denmark’s Mia Blichfeldt in the Round of 16 match of women’s individual event in the Tokyo Olympics here at the Musashino Forest Plaza Court 3. Sindhu defeated Blichfeldt 21-15, 21-13 in just 41 minutes to cruise into the quarter-finals.

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