Gurpreet Sandhu steals the show as India stun Asian Champions Qatar for a draw

2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 Asia Cup Joint Qualifiers
10.09.2019
Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium
Qatar 0-0 India

They defended for their lives and after the full 90 minutes, all the tiredness flew away and a draw felt more than a victory for a team who was once a powerhouse in Asian circuit. Holding the current Asian champions Qatar for a goalless draw in Qatar is indeed historical in every sense for Igor Stimac's boys. The fight they gave on the pitch right from the whistle spoke for itself.

India hold Qatar - FIFA WCQ
Sahal Samad dribbling past Qatar, Picture Courtesy: AIFF Media
The mindset was clear for the Blue Tigers and it was to sit back and soak the incoming Qatari thunderstorm, who had out-muscled every other Asian counterpart. A team effort was needed and a team effort it was, spearheaded by the giant Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. Gurpreet was also in stunning form against Oman but a loss in concentration led to the first goal. He could not ill-afford to make any mistake and he hardly put a foot wrong. Every outing, every save and every decision he made gave the picture of the man who has all what it takes to succeed at the very top level, a man who had been a part of a first team setup in European top division side. He was helped by two more identical looking giants - Adil Khan and Sandesh Jhingan in front of him, helping to thwart away every aerial ball. Qatar attacked from right, middle and left but they could not unlock the well oiled Indian defense and credit where its due, Igor Stimac deserves all the applaud for that.

India didn't create too many chances, but the best chance perhaps fell to or rather was created by, the pacy Udanta, whose left footed effort narrowly went over the post. Another man who gave a very good account of himself in the attack was the 22 year old Sahal Abdul Samad.

Sahal's performances keeps on improving every match, and he is a player who seems to be unfazed by the quality of opponent. A calm, cool attack minded midfielder who is a technically gifted player, a rare breed among Indian players. His composure and decision making helped by his quick feets is something to boast of and to look for in the years to come. He created a chance for himself and very nearly went through on goal but he was brought down rather cynically with the referee brandishing a yellow.

The Indian midfield must also be credited for the solidity in the defense. Rowlin Borges in particular was literally everywhere stopping crosses, putting his body on the line and using his physique to a great advantage. Anirudh Thapa, Rahul Bheke and every other member did put a double shift.

The full time whistle came as a relief and joy for Team India as the crowd, who were in huge numbers supporting the Blue Tigers away from home. Joy, emotion, cheers and jeers followed as the crowd and the team joined for the Viking clap.

Definitely, a day to bookmark for Indian football.
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About Debraj Banerjee

Hi, I am Debraj Banerjee from Adra, West Bengal. A keen follower of Indian football and always an optimist that the game will get the recognition it truely deserves. What we ask from you is your support and one day the dream might turn true. Fingers crossed for Indian football. Cheers!

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