2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: India 0-0 Qatar | 3 reasons why India drew
#2 A well-worked out defensive plan
India's defence was far better from their previous outing. The back-four, who had been blamed to lose out its shape after the 75th minute, rectified the mistake that cost their game against Oman.
Sandesh Jhingan and Adil Khan were unmoved in front of the goal and made valuable tackles and blocks. The flanks were well-guarded by Rahul Bheke and Mandar Rao Desai. Udanta Singh and Nikhil Poojary were assigned duties with defensive priorities and were present whenever the fullbacks required support. The midfielders too played their part well at the back, offering more resistance against the Qatari attacks. Rowllin Borges made crucial interceptions while Anirudh Thapa was in time to clear the danger.
Despite having a pacy attack, the 62nd ranked team found it difficult to break through India's defence. Qatar was forced to switch wings and tried at goal from distance out of frustration. The defence line too was kept well, leading to numerous off-sides against the Maroons.
#1 Gurpreet Singh Sandhu's heroics
Holding a side like Qatar would have been impossible without a faultless performance before the goal. Even after showing great improvement in defence, India was at times overthrown by Qatar's moves inside the box. In all such situations, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu came to the team's rescue, keeping the scores nil.
The Bengaluru FC custodian showcased one of his best performances in national colours and was vigilant not to concede any until the final whistle. Sandhu was always at the right place at the right time. The 27-year old had great positioning and kept a safe pair of hands. The two freekicks Qatar won outside India's box were made useless by the shot-stopper's sensibility. Though put to immense pressure from back-to-back corners and frequent shots on goal, Sandhu kept his line and spot perfectly.
It was Sandhu, who was the hosts' biggest hurdle in overcoming the 103rd ranked side. In Chhetri's absence, the captain's armband was on the right hand, which saved the game for India.