Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and India's defenders were once again heroes on the night as Igor Stimac's Indian football team pulled off an incredible 0-0 draw playing against Asian champions Qatar on their own turf in their World Cup qualifier.
The Blue Tigers had to absorb tremendous pressure from the home side throughout the game but they kept their composure at the back in order to gain their first point in Group E.
Igor Stimac made four changes to India's starting XI which lost 1-2 against Oman in Guwahati in the first qualifier.
Skipper Sunil Chhetri along with Ashique Kuruniyan, Brandon Fernandes and Subhashish Bose dropped out and were replaced by Manvir Singh, Sahal Abdul Samad, Nikhil Poojary and Mandar Rao Desai.
As expected, Qatar dominated proceedings throughout but failed to score as
HALF-TIME! What a half that has been! @QFA have thrown everything at the #BlueTigers , but they have held on! — Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) September 10, 2019
0-0 #QATIND ⚔ #WCQ #BackTheBlue #BlueTigers #IndianFootball ⚽ pic.twitter.com/4EsU3gJmiR
The second half saw the Asian Cup champions attacking more which left some gaps for Indian attackers to exploit. Udanta could have shocked the hosts by breaking the deadlock in the 82nd minute when he attempted a shot from the edge of the box. The winger received a pass from Thapa before shaping to shoot but his curling effort went above the crossbar.
The draw handed India their first point in Round Two of the 2022 World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup joint qualifiers after they lost 1-2 against Oman in their opening clash.
This draw meant that India joined the likes of Brazil, Argentina and Colombia as the only countries that have kept a cleansheet against Qatar in the year 2019.
FULL-TIME! IT'S OVER! INDIA HAVE HELD THE @afcasiancup CHAMPIONS! @QFA threw the proverbial kitchen-sink at the #BlueTigers , but it was @stimac_igor and boys have held on to the draw! — Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) September 10, 2019
0-0 #QATIND ⚔ #WCQ #BackTheBlue #BlueTigers #IndianFootball ⚽ pic.twitter.com/03lnm57Zo4
Here's how fans on twitter reacted to India holding on to an incredible draw against the Qataris:
Dear India, THAT is my team and THOSE are my boys! Cannot describe how proud I am at this moment. Not a big result for the table, but in terms of a fight, as big as it can get. Huge credit to the coaching staff and the dressing room. #QATIND— Sunil Chhetri (@chetrisunil11) September 10, 2019
Quite a performance from India, especially without Sunil Chhetri and Ashique Kuruniyan. On a day when many doubted India's attacking presence, the defence put up a disciplined performance to control the game and pull off a result. Kudos to Gurpreet Singh Sandhu! #QATIND #WCQ2022— Manasi Pathak (@ThatUnitedLady) September 10, 2019
Massive result for Indian football. Shows that determination, courage and hard work can match skill and quality. Will be disappointed if this doesn’t make the main news in the sports pages tomorrow. Well done, boys. The journey has just begun! #QATIND— Indranil Das Blah (@indranildasblah) September 10, 2019
Doesn't matter how they come. A draw that will feel like a win for India. What a famous point, bloody hell! #QATIND— Mihir Vasavda (@mihirsv) September 10, 2019
Talk about standing your ground and fighting 🔥 Away to the home of the Asian champions, and refused to be beaten or bullied. India, can we have more of this, please? Also, paaji was operating on another plane @GurpreetGK #QATIND— Kunaal Majgaonkar (@kunmajgaonkar) September 10, 2019
History History History!!! This will go into the record books of Indian Football!!! India have managed to hold on the Asian Champions Qatar in their Den 😍😍😍.... This draw is sweet as a victory #BackTheBlues #QATIND pic.twitter.com/JiDpiMRti0— Manjappada KBFC Fans (@kbfc_manjappada) September 10, 2019
Yeh Naya India Hain, yeh ghar me ghusega bhi aur marega bhi !— Nuclear Nadal (@NuclearNadal2) September 10, 2019
Indian Football Team ranked 103 has just secured a massive 0-0 draw in FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifier against 62nd ranked Qatar in Qatar who are current Asian Champions & the host of 2022 FIFA World Cup. But you won't see it on media cause it's not Virat Kohli. #QATIND #Gurpreet— Gochi Guruji (@GochiGuruji) September 10, 2019
This are Asian Champions we have held at nil nil, this is the side that defeated Japan, Saudi, UAE.— Nuclear Nadal (@NuclearNadal2) September 10, 2019
We not only held them at a clean chit but also our chances for qualifying for the next stage now becomes a LOT better. #BackTheBlue #QATIND
I feel like we also need a statue for gurpreet Singh Sandhu now!— Sunny (@SunnyS_111) September 10, 2019
History has been created.— B K Sharma (@BKSharm06604018) September 10, 2019
Welcome to Stimac Era.!!
This is the beginning.— Junejh (@Junejh1) September 10, 2019
Biggest result in the history of post liberalisation period for Indian football team— Nyay (@nyaysangat) September 10, 2019
Proud day for Indian fans. This result will motivate us to do wonders. God bless Stimac. Holding champions without chhetri was not expected by any one of us — Vijesh Dsouza (@DsouzaVijesh) September 10, 2019
Massive absolutely MASSIVE.... Doing it without chhetri and getting such a result. Gurpreet hands down u r the best we have and yes we were lucky but we have been unlucky a hell lot of time like udanta hitting crossbar against oman and uae. So yes YESSSSS!!— Sameer (@sameer_football) September 10, 2019
Getting tears .thanks to indian football team.proud of u guys殺殺— Akilvel (@akilvel) September 10, 2019
8% Indians fans took over Qatar 92%— Nishant (@angryindian__) September 10, 2019
Wow Unbelievable Result This is . A Draw Against An Asian Champion In thier home Ground is not Easy . What a Game Strategy . Thank you dear Coach @stimac_igor and @GurpreetGK To Get Great Result. @IndianFootball is On Top Form. The Future is Bright . We are so proud of you— Raghuvicky (@Rvmsdthala) September 10, 2019
Cangrats....❤️❤️— Ramees Mandolakandy (@Muhamma04762724) September 10, 2019
It's not a tie....
It's a Winning Billions of Hearts...
You are tied Asian Champions.....
It's a beginning Future is Bright for Indian Team
Mera Bharat Mahan
Take a bow guys..!!— Pritam.Bhondave (@pritam_k_bond) September 10, 2019
Gurpreet Singh your performance was world class
Biggest achievement of the decade I guess holding the Asian champions in there dent #QATIND
Tremendous performance by Blue Tigers. Held Qatar to a Goalless Draw. Only Brazil, Argentina and Colombia have been able to keep clean sheets against Qatar this year before this match. India was playing without Sunil Chhetri. Well done Boys... @BlueTigersIndia @chetrisunil11— Abhishek Bose (@abhibose161277) September 10, 2019
India will next be in action at home against Bangladesh on October 15 in their next World Cup qualifier at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata.