A 10-man India defended creditably well as they suffered a 0-1 defeat to Asian champions Qatar in their World Cup qualifying round match in Doha on Thursday. Abdel Aziz scored in the 33rd minute in a match completely dominated by the Qataris. The two sides had played out a goalless draw in their first leg match here in September 2019.
The Blue Tigers were put under heavy pressure right from the word go by the Qataris, and if not for custodian Gurpreet Singh’s valiant efforts, the scoreline could have been even worse. Defender Rahul Bheke was shown a yellow card just 10 minutes into the match for a rather clumsy challenge and was sent off the field seven minutes after for a deliberate handball, leaving India down to 10 men.
India played with 10 men from the 17th minute onwards after defender Rahul Bheke was red-carded after a second booking. He had earlier received a yellow card in the ninth minute.
Offensively, this was a better match for India compared to their previous one against Qatar. Now the team should look to collect six points against Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Manvir Singh also missed out on two good chances to score for India as Gurpreet Singh was kept busy by the Qatar attackers. India brought in Udanta Singh replacing the captain, Sunil Chhetri in the second half. Gurpreet had a good second half, making some fine saves, but India could not get the equaliser and suffered another defeat.
The second half started on a rather interesting note for India, with Stimac replacing Chettri with Udanta Singh in the attack. But the rest of the half had a set suit – Qatar on constant attacks, Gurpreet saving shot after shot with the defence chipping in occasionally, while the rest of the Indian team kept gasping for non-existent counterattacks. To keep their chance of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup alive, India could not have afforded any result other than a win. With the World Cup out of reach, even mathematically, now Blue Tigers need to have their eyes set on the AFC Asian Cup when they take on Bangladesh and Afghanistan next.