Doha: India came up with their most significant result in recent times as they held Asian Champions Qatar to a 0-0 draw in their second Group E match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 on Tuesday.
What makes this result remarkable is the fact that on the FIFA rankings, India is at 103rd position while Qatar is on 62nd. Blue Tigers coach Igor Stimac made four changes to the lineup and the team was even without its star player Sunil Chhetri due to viral infection.
From the beginning of the match, Qatar dominated the ball possession and kept on making aggressive moves on the field to trouble the Indian defenders and goalkeeper.
India was willing to stay back and absorb the pressure. Qatar came out all guns blazing and they created many opportunities but skipper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu defied and frustrated the Asian Champions.
Twice in the first 10 minutes, Gurpreet denied his rival counterpart Hassan Al Heidos, thus growing in confidence, and transporting it to the entire team, who wasn't willing to give away an inch.
In fact, the Indians were stubborn. The Qataris enjoyed the possession, but timely interceptions, tackles, and with one backing the other and defending as a team, Qatar weren't able to break free.
Blue Tigers got a chance to score a goal in the 51st minute as Udanta Singh received the ball from Abdul Sahal, outpacing Qatar's Abdelkarim Hasan and he tried to find Manvir Singh, who was backing up but it was a bit too long for the latter and the opportunity could not be seized.
Six minutes later, Sahal breached the Qatari midfield once again but Assim Madibo played foul, thus earning a yellow card. At the hour mark, India came close once again, but Sahal's left-footed volley off an Anirudh Thapa corner missed the goalpost narrowly.
With this result, India moves to one point from two matches with Qatar currently topping the group with four points from the same number of games. India will next play Bangladesh in their next match on October 15 at the Yuba Bharati Krirangan, in Kolkata.