Bengaluru, Sep 11: After their heartbreaking loss against Oman in the first game of the joint qualifiers for 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup, India had to face their biggest challenge of the group stage i.e. playing the Asian champions Qatar away from home and they passed the test with flying colours. The resolute fight from India saw them salvage a 0-0 draw at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Tuesday (September 10) against a team that is currently the best in Asia.
Without skipper Sunil Chhetri, who missed the game with an injury, India came up with a sensational defensive display and created a good number of opportunities for themselves as well. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was decisive between the sticks as always but the clean-sheet against Qatar, who have defeated every Asian team they faced this year, was a collective effort and everyone deserves credit for that.
Here are three things we learnt from the game:
India have a golden generation of footballers in their hands
Sunil Chhetri has been the talisman of the Indian national team for more than a decade now and is still the best player to done the Blue shirt. But the match against Qatar proved India have some amazing young talents in their ranks who can make India really proud in the coming years. Take 22-year-old Sahal Abdul Samad for example, who is turning out to be an elegant midfielder for the Blue Tigers.
In a game where Qatar dominated most of the possession, Sahal managed to make his mark whenever he got the ball. The likes of Udanta Singh, Ashique Kuruniyan, Anirudh Thapa, Vinit Rai, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Brandon Fernandes, Nikhil Poojari are all young and under a manager like Igor Stimac, they will grow a lot and become the core of the Indian side in future.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu - the Great Wall of India
After his heroic display on Tuesday night, the social media is flooded with pictures and posts hailing Indian goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu as 'The Great Wall of India'. What a decisive game he had under the bar and this is quite commonplace for him nowadays. Against Oman as well, the former East Bengal keeper was brilliant. India truly have a world-class keeper in their ranks and that acts as a huge boost for the team as he can convert losses into draws and draws into wins with his performance.
Jeje Lalpekhlua is a must for Team India
India have been missing one of their best players in recent months in the form of Jeje Lalpekhlua. The 28-year-old continues his recovery following surgery on his knee. The Mizoram-born forward will be a huge addition to the Indian side when he becomes fit and with him in the side, Stimac's team will look much much better and huge burden on Sunil Chhetri's shoulders will also be eased. India got their chances on the counter against Qatar and with someone like Jeje, who is both quick and lethal, India could have won the game.