After goalless draw against Qatar, Sunil Chhetri lauds his 'boys'

Tanya Simon
September 11, 2019

The 0-0 draw has given the Indian team a chance to finish at least second in their group and strengthen their chances of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup.

India took the field without their experienced striker Sunil Chhetri, who was down with fever, as the visitors made four changes in the starting line-up from the last match against Oman.

Beating Felix Sanchez's team, ranked 62 in the Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings, seems like an insurmountable task but India have all the necessary ingredients to hurt any top-quality side if they stick to their guns.

"Hope to see the action live next March in #KalingaStadium, the likely venue for the India vs Qatar match", Director of Sports and Youth Services Department, Vineel Krishna, tweeted on Tuesday. While Qatar are still leading the pack with four points from two matches, India are now at the fourth spot with one point from two matches.

Even though the hosts threw everything at India, the visitors - led by goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu - stood tall against incessant waves of attack to play out a goalless draw against a team ranked 41 places above them in the Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings. Nevertheless, Stimac, with his experience will know better than to fix these issues as much as possible before taking on the formidable Qatar.

India team coach Stimac said it's an opportunity to learn. "They spurred us on, cheering us all throughout", Gurpreet said.

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In the second half, Qatar continued to attack but the Indians kept them at bay.

India defeated Qatar 2-1 in Doha in 2011 in a friendly but that match was not considered an official game as India made more substitutions than the rules allowed.

Skipper Hassan Al-Haydos troubled right-back Rahul Bheke with his darting runs and powerful crosses, while Gurpreet was a busy man in the Indian goal.

With 25 minutes on the clock, an Al-Haydos corner was flicked on by Poojary only to find an unmarked Boualem Khoukhi on the far post.

That was one of the few moments Sandhu was beaten. A move between AnirudhThapa and Udanta Singh, saw the last named shot going inches over the crossbar.

India will next play Bangladesh in their next match on October 15 at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata.

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