India Face the Toughest Test against Asian Champions Qatar

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As India held Asian champions Qatar to a goalless draw in the qualifying tournament for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023, goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu said that he is extremely proud of what the team achieved in Doha.

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.

Cricket is king in India with football a distant second in the list of the country's favourite sports, though most fans rarely pay attention to Indian soccer, instead preferring to watch the English Premier League (EPL) or German Bundesliga. However, Stimac himself has called the team's performance "an invitation to the next match".

Stimac additionally emphasised that the crew nonetheless have to work on sure areas regardless of holding Qatar to a goal-less draw. After a very good present towards Qatar, India's coach Igor Stimac stated that he was very happy to get some extent from the match. In September 2007, Qatar dominated India in their World Cup qualifiers convincingly with a 6-0 lopsided victory.

"It gives us that added motivation and confidence that in football, anything is possible".

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

Midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad, drafted into the starting line-up in place of Brandon Fernandes, credited Stimac for freeing up the players after a first half where the Indian goal appeared to be under siege more often than not. "So we showed good fitness", Stimac concluded. But, India rallied back a few years by defeating Qatar 2-1 in 2011 in an unofficial game in Doha. Qatar mostly had to go for strikes from far off.

Towards the end, Qatar were incisive and created a number of chances but were unable to bury them. "They spurred us on, cheering us all throughout", Gurpreet said.

Stimac himself was generous in his praise of the Qatar team, who had every statistic of the match in their favour apart from the scoreline. "I want to see 80000 people in Kolkata against Bangladesh. Can not describe how proud I am at this moment", tweeted the 35-year-old. "We deserve that and we are expecting all of them to come and help us get three points".

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