Gurpreet Singh Sandhu 'saves' the day as India holds Qatar

2022 World Cup Qualifier Round 2- Group E- Qatar v India- Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium Doha Qatar

2022 World Cup Qualifier Round 2- Group E- Qatar v India- Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium Doha Qatar

The 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match that kicked off at 7:30 pm (Qatar standard time) at the Al Sadd Stadium drew more than 12,000 spectators with tickets already sold out as early as last afternoon, a report says. Qatar had 27 shots in comparison to just two from India but Sandhu led from behind and made massive saves to help India to maintain a clean slate till the end.

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.

Sans the services of talisman Sunil Chhetri who was indisposed, Gurpreet led the Indian team who are 41 rungs below Qatar in the Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings. India next play Bangladesh on October 15 in Kolkata. Qatar are ranked 62nd in the world to India's 103.

Qatar were utterly dominant in this first half.

India, who had suffered a heartbreaking 1-2 loss to Oman in their opening encounter in Guwahati, now have one point from two matches. The home side had at least half a dozen on-target shots and seven corners in the first half while India did not have any.

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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.

A free header off Boualem Khoukhi in the 26th minute was also off the target as India escaped unscathed in the first half.

Gurpreet's solid display between the sticks continued in the second-half as Abdelkarim Hassan and Abdurisag Ismaiel couldn't get a taste of the goal either.

Sahal Samad was brilliant in the midfield as he, on a few occasions, got the better of his opponents and sent fine passes to the likes of Udanta Singh. The Maroons nearly 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.

Igor Stimac made four changes to his side from the starting eleven against Oman. Chhetri was left out as he was suffering from fever. But India will be happy with the fact that they have been able to hold Qatar goalless so far and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has a big role to play in this. Akram Afif and Karim Boudiaf were forced out due to injuries and they were replaced by Bassam Hisham and Abdul Aziz Hatem.

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