Igor Stimac’s India held AFC Asian Cup 2019 winner Qatar to a goalless draw in the second match of their 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers campaign at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Tuesday.
Qatar were head and shoulder above the visitors when it came to possession and chances created, but the Indians defended bravely and resolutely to keep the Asian champions at bay for the full 90 minutes.
When the Indian backline failed, stand-in captain Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, under the bar, was at hand to keep the Qatari attacks one after the other away from the Indian goal with a string of stunning reflex saves.
— الاتحاد القطري لكرة القدم 🇶🇦 (@QFA) September 10, 2019
It was Gurpreet’s counterpart Hassan Al Haydos who gave early trouble to the Indian skipper as he fired a string of shots from distance to test the Indian custodian early on. Gurpreet had his near post covered when the Al Sadd attacker fired in a powerful shot in the 10th minute.
Mandar Rao Desia gave away possession cheaply four minutes later to Abdulaziz Hatem who curled his effort towards the top corner only to see it miss by a matter of inches, before Gurpreet once again kept out a pile-driver from Al Haydos in the 21st minute.
Boualem Khoukhi had a chance to score unmarked at the far post a few moments later, but failed to hit the target with his head as Qatar piled the pressure on the Blue Tigers. The Maroons almost found a way through in the dying minutes of the first half when both Almoez Ali and Yusuf Abdurisag failed to connect to a Hatem’s misdirected shot across the goal.
— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) September 10, 2019
Second half began with further attacks from Qatar, but India did manage a break in the 52nd minute when Udanta Singh fired a cross-cum-shot across the goal while Sahal Abdul Samad also went close in the 66th minute when India worked a corner all the way to the Kerala Blasters playmaker at the edge of the box whose effort flew inches wide.
Udanta almost gave India a winner in the 81st minute when he tried to curl an effort into the goal from outside the box. However, the hosts did go close to scoring a couple of times in the dying minutes.
Substitute Ismaeel Mohammad hit the crossbar five minutes from time, but in the end it was Gurpreet who was the difference as he gave India their first point of the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers against the mighty opponents.
India had suffered a late 2-1 defeat to Oman in their opening match at the Indira Gandhi Athletics Stadium in Guwahati last week while Felix Sanchez’s Qatar had romped past Afghanistan 6-0 in their opener.