After facing all odds in the prestigious campaign of FIFA World Cup 2020 qualifiers, Indian men held the Asian champions Qatar to a goalless draw at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium on Tuesday. The Sunil Chhetri less Indian squad put up a great show against the powerful hosts as they gave tough-competition to the strong opponents. In the absence of great skipper Chhetri, the responsibility came on Gurpreet Singh Sandhu’s shoulder to lead the blues and he put his best efforts to lift the team up in the second battle of Qualifiers.
The gutsy player Sandhu who has recently been honoured with Arjuna Award 2019 kept the hosts at bay with his impressive saves. Qataris started off the game with some worth-watching shots as the Hassan Al-Haydos-led team tried a lot to dominate the lead first. But as long as Gurpreet Sandhu is in India’s team nobody can grab the goal so easily. The experienced goalkeeper trapped the strong opponents comfortably and set up a great defence show against Qatar. The hosts aimed 27 shots on target and yet failed to beat Gurpreet in India’s defence.
In the 85th minute of the game, Ismaeel Mohammad almost found the net but again Sandhu came in his way to save the aggressive shot. At last both the squads wrapped up the battle with a 0-0 verdict.
The 27-year-old brilliant goalie Gurpreet Singh Sandhu expressed his feeling after a flabbergasting nail-biter against Qatar, “I feel extremely proud of the team for our performance against Qatar. The team-effort helped us achieve the result. It will help us immensely in the qualifiers. We have played just two matches, and we have played well, that too against two powerful teams.”
Earlier in the grand campaign opener, Indians lost by a 1-2 margin against Oman and Sunil Chhetri’s lone goal went in vain. On the other hand, Qataris enjoyed their magnificent victory in the very first game over Afghanistan by six goals. The Men in Blues will next take on Bangladesh at Salt Lake Stadium on October 15th whereas top-rankers Qatar will face Oman in the next battle on the same day at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium.