Igor Stimac’s squad were successful to steal an unexpected point from their away match against the reigning Asian Champions- Qatar in their FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Doha on Tuesday.
Playing without the experience of captain- Sunil Chhetri who was laid down with fever against the side ranked much above the Indian Blue Tigers according to the latest FIFA World Rankings- India showcased a defensive masterclass which helped them to become the only Asian side to not lost to the hosts of FIFA World Cup 2022.
Suffering a heartbreaking 1-2 loss against Oman in their opener on September 5, 2019 in Guwahati, it was a mammoth task to fight against Qatar who had dominated the Afghans 6-0 in their 1st match of the tournament. The haunting 6-0 loss in September 2007 in the FIFA 2010 World Cup qualifiers was the only among the senior official encounter having both the teams involved.
The Indian goalkeeper- Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was handed the additional responsibility of leading the squad against the Quataris. He was tested early in the match by his opposite captain- Hassan Al-Hayodas. The finger tip save in the 20th minute, just minutes later when the ball flew above the Indian goal-post crossbar displayed a fierce battle between the Indian defence and the Qatar attack. Having waited for more than 2/3rd of the entire match, India got their first corner of the evening in the 66th minute which flew inches above the right post of Saad Al Sheeb- who conceded a single goal in the Asian Cup, that too in the final against Japan.
Sahal Samad, Udanta Singh and Anirudh Thapa were impressive on numerous occasions and got better off their opponents thereby justifying their respective playing position and also beating the much fancied opponents.
Here is how Twitterati reacted post the historic draw at Doha and the only Asian side not to lose against Qatar in the calendar year:-
Dear India, THAT is my team and THOSE are my boys! Cannot describe how proud I am at this moment. Not a big result for the table, but in terms of a fight, as big as it can get. Huge credit to the coaching staff and the dressing room. #QATIND
— Sunil Chhetri (@chetrisunil11) September 10, 2019
Massive result for Indian football. Shows that determination, courage and hard work can match skill and quality. Will be disappointed if this doesn’t make the main news in the sports pages tomorrow. Well done, boys. The journey has just begun! #QATIND
— Indranil Das Blah (@indranildasblah) September 10, 2019
A PHENOMENAL performance from our #MenInBlue tonight as they hold the Asian Champions level in Doha!
A truly unforgettable night for all of us 💙
— K e r a l a B l a s t e r s F C (@KeralaBlasters) September 10, 2019