India vs Oman, FIFA World Cup Qualifier: Anas returns to squad

India vs Oman, FIFA World Cup Qualifier: Anas returns to squad

Indian football team's head coach Igor Stimac praised the ‘character’ of Anas Edathodika, who despite losing his mother, has opted to join the Blue Tigers two days before it faces Oman in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex on Tuesday.

"We suffer from time to time when players get injured or due to other problems. He (Anas) had to leave the camp and go back before the Afghanistan game, as his mother passed away," said Stimac.

"But I want to mention that he has come back to serve to country. I have players like him in our team and I'm proud of them. His return boosts the team,” he added.

India's goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu also shared Anas' grief and praised centre-back for his commitment towards the national team.

"I was very sorry to hear about his loss, it is a difficult time for him and his family. My prayers are with him. His commitment to the National Team is unparalleled and something that fuels our desire to go out there and play our hearts out," Sandhu said.

India skipper Sunil Chhetri indicated that "staying with the team and playing" might help Anas come out of these tough days.

"It is pure strength shown by our experienced Anas-bhai. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for him and the grief inside him. I hope staying with the team and playing football helps him in the process," Chhetri said.

India, currently fourth in Group E of the FIFA World Cup 2022 and Asia Cup Qualifiers, needs to beat world no 84 Oman in order to keep its chances of progressing to the next round alive.

"Wherever you go, the intention stays quite clear, you go to win it. We have come here to win as well. We have great respect for Oman, who are a very good side. We have faced them in Guwahati a few months back where they have shown their real capacity," Igor Stimac said.

Sandhu meanwhile was full of praise for Oman goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi and said that the former Wigan Athletic and Bolton Wanderers goalkeeper is "one of the best persons" he has met.

"I have grown up idolising him and am privileged to know him personally. He's one of the best persons I have met. I met him when we came here in 2015 and I'd be glad to see him once again tomorrow. I wish him all the luck for tomorrow as well," Gurpreet concluded.

Oman head coach Erwin Koeman warned his team to be cautious against India which has been unable to notch up a win in the qualifiers so far.

"We know India's strengths as well as weaknesses. We don't need to focus on them. Rather, we need to work on our strengths. They are a team that can make us pay a heavy price if we don't do our work properly."


Meanwhile, seasoned midfielder Raed Ibrahim Saleh is ruled out of Tuesday’s game owing to an injury.

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