India came up with a resilient performance in their 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Asian champions Qatar at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Thursday night. However, their efforts went in vain as Felix Sanchez’s men registered a 1-0 win thanks to Abdelaziz Hatem’s strike in the 33rdminute of the game.
The Blue Tigers were dealt a major blow in the 17th minute after Rahul Bheke was given his marching orders for handball. India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was disappointed not to have got something out of the game despite putting in a lot of effort.
“I think we were very unfortunate with the result. As you can see everyone is physically finished because I think every boy on the pitch gave their everything. That’s what they need [to do]. It’s very, very unfortunate not to get something out of this game because going down to 10 men in the first half… it’s always hard against a very good opponent like Qatar,” Gurpreet said right after the game.
India’s Manvir Singh had a couple of good chances but couldn’t make the most of them. Gurpreet, who plays for Bengaluru FC in the Hero Indian Super League (Hero ISL), rued those misses from the ATK Mohun Bagan striker. “We had our chances and we should learn how to make the most of them. Against a good opposition like Qatar chances are rare,” he said.
India will now play Bangladesh on June 7, after which they will line up against Afghanistan on June 15 in their last match of the group. Gurpreet said it was important to move on from the defeat against Qatar and look ahead to those two important games. “Everyone is gutted, the way we played we deserved something out of it. But things happen in football and [now] we move on to the next two games,” he said.
On a personal level, Gurpreet had a great game in goal and if it wasn’t for him, the Qataris could have scored a few more goals. “I didn’t count how many saves I made [on Thursday night] but I think this time I made more saves than I did the last time against Qatar [referring to the September 2019 game that had ended in a 0-0 draw],” he concluded.