Doha, Sept. 10: In what can be termed as the Indian Senior National Team’s most significant result in recent times, a resolute India held Asian Champions Qatar to a goalless draw at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in their second Group E match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Joint-Qualifiers.
Even as Head Coach Igor Stimac made four changes to the starting line-up which played Oman in the first match, the biggest setback stayed that talismanic striker Sunil Chhetri wasn’t able to recover in time from his viral infection. So much so, that he wasn’t even on the bench, but watched from the stands.
In the first-half, the Indians were willing to stay back, absorb the pressure, preferring to play the waiting game. And even as the Asian Champions came out all guns blazing and created lot many opportunities threatening to take the lead, captain Gurpreet Singh Sandhu stood up like a superman, defying and frustrating Qatar.
Twice in the first 10 minutes, Gurpreet denied his rival counterpart Hassan Al Heidos, thus growing in confidence, and transpiring his confidence to the entire defence, and all who weren’t willing to give away an inch. Gurpreet came with some scintillating saves, including one to deny Almoez Ali in the dying minutes of the first-half, as both teams headed to the interval locked goalless.
Changing over, the Blue Tigers opened up, waiting to catch Qatar on the wrong foot off on the counter-attack. In the 51st minute, Udanta received it from Sahal, outpaced Abdelkarim Hasan and tried to find Manvir Singh, who was backing up; but it was a bit too long for him.
FULL-TIME! IT'S OVER! INDIA HAVE HELD THE @afcasiancup CHAMPIONS! 🙌🙌@QFA threw the proverbial kitchen-sink at the #BlueTigers 🐯, but it was @stimac_igor and boys have held on to the draw! 👏👏— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) September 10, 2019
🇶🇦 0-0 🇮🇳#QATIND ⚔ #WCQ 🌏🏆 #BackTheBlue 💙 #BlueTigers 🐯 #IndianFootball ⚽ pic.twitter.com/03lnm57Zo4
Six minutes later, Sahal breached the Qatari midfield once again but Assim Madibo's harsh challenge on him ended up inviting a booking for the rival midfielder.
After the hour-mark, India came close once again but Sahal's left-footed volley off an Anirudh Thapa corner missed narrowly.
Source: Press Release