Stimac more than happy to get a point against Qatar

Indian Fans With Valid Tickets Denied Entry To World Cup Qualifiers In Qatar

Despite being the dominant team, Qatar failed to penetrate the inside game of India resulting in failed goal shots.

The score read 0-0, but this 0-0 was spreading on social media like wildfire, each Tweet fuelling the growing adulation for what the Men in Blue had achieved after straining every sinew and muscle in their tiring bodies for 94 energy-sapping minutes.

A brilliant performance from goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and some stout defending helped India take a point from Asian champions Qatar in the FIFA World Cup 2022 and Asian Cup 2023 qualifying campaign at the Al Sadd Stadium yesterday.

Against all odds, India, ranked 103rd in the world, staved off 62nd-ranked Qatar for 90 minutes without the services of star forward and captain Sunil Chhetri, who was indisposed.

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.

Qatar started the game strong by loading 27 goal shots compared to India's only two attempted goal shots.

Their absentees also meant head coach Igor Stimac was forced into making changes as Nikhil Poojary, Mandar Rao Desai, Sahal Abdul Samad and Manvir Singh came into the starting XI to replace Chhetri, Kuruniyan, Brandon Fernandes and Subhasish Bose.

In the end, India was happy with the fact that they were been able to hold Qatar goalless and Sandhu had a big role to play in this.

India had narrowly lost to Oman 1-2 in their qualifying opener in Guwahati a few days back.

In their previous head-to-head matches, Qatar has won three out of four official matches in their encounter against rival India with one game ending in a draw. "They created more chances today but we also had many chances", Stimac said. The Qataris, led by Almoez Ali and skipper Hassan Al-Haydos attacked the Indian goal in waves.

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.

Later it was Thapa and Udanta who combined with the latter trying his luck from outside the penalty area with a curling effort only for the ball to skim over the crossbar.

The Blue Tigers will next face Bangladesh in the tournament on October 15.

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