2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: India 0-0 Qatar | 3 reasons why India drew
India held Qatar to a goalless draw in the second fixture of the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha. This draw against the Asian giants can be regarded as the Blue Tigers' best result under the Croatian manager Igor Stimac.
India were forced to start the game without skipper Sunil Chhetri and in-form Ashique Kuruniyan. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was given the additional duty of leading the side. Even in Chhetri's absence, India managed to reinforce themselves to stop a storm-like Qatari attack. Right from the kick-off, the hosts kept looking for a way into the Indian box. The defence maintained shape at most times and Gurpreet Singh Sandhu stole the show whenever the ball got past the blue shirts.
At the end of 90 minutes, India managed to restrict the Asian giants, who have scored 25 goals from their last eight games in the continent, from registering on the scoresheet. The result is undoubtedly a milestone under Stimac's reign. The manager's experiments and hard work after taking over have finally started yielding results.
Here, we look at 3 reasons why India managed to pull off a draw:
#3 Sunil Chhetri's presence might have brought India a goal
While the players and fans are happy with the draw, it can't be denied that Sunil Chhetri's presence might have clinched India a goal. The Blue Tigers were keen on keeping their defence intact and hence rarely went out for an attack. But, there were moments when Udanta Singh and Manvir Singh nearly got a goal against their name.
Every time Udanta came near the Qatari goal, Indians wished Chhetri was in the box to convert. The free-kick in the second half that caused no trouble to the hosts reminded of the Bengaluru FC forward's set-piece heroics against Oman. Throughout the game, Chhetri's absence was evident from the vast space that was void between the lone striker and the midfielders.
The match again depicted how crucial the 35-year old is to India's system and is a reminder for Stimac to frame an apt successor for the talisman.