Sans the services of talisman Sunil Chhetri who was indisposed, Gurpreet led the Indian team who are 41 rungs below Qatar in the Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings. According to experts, with this draw, India has gained the first point on board in the qualifiers. The 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match that kicked off at 7:30 pm (Qatar standard time) at the Al Sadd Stadium drew more than 12,000 spectators with tickets already sold out as early as last afternoon, a report says.
It was all about Qatar as far as goalscoring opportunities were concerned as Ismaeel Mohammad rattled the woodwork on the rebound in the 85th minute but luck favoured India and Gurpreet who pulled off some astonishing saves either side of halftime.
However, the Indian defence kept its shape well and for the most part denied Qatar any chance to take a shot from close.
India hold Asian champions Qatar
At halftime, the hosts were left high and dry as they went into the break 0-0.
Against all odds, India, ranked 103rd in the world, staved off 62nd-ranked Qatar for 90 minutes without the services of star forward and captain Sunil Chhetri, who was indisposed.
"We have played two matches, that too against two powerful teams, and we have played well".
India, who are aiming to appear in successive Asian Cup finals for the first time in history, can do so by finishing in the top two of Group E of their FIFA World Cup qualification second round.More news: England drops Roy for final Ashes Test
The Indian team, under new coach Igor Stimac, had a disappointing start to the campaign last week as they suffered a narrow 1-2 loss against Oman at home.
Afghanistan played a defensive 5-4-1 formation and Qatar ripped them to shreds, so a sit back-and-counter approach may not be a feasible option for India.
"Of course, Qatar deserved more from the game".
The side next take on Bangladesh at the colossal Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on October 15.More news: Team USA basketball vs. France, score
Towards the end, Qatar were incisive and created a number of chances but were unable to bury them.
"Qatar had more chances than us. Can not describe how proud I am at this moment", tweeted the 35-year-old. "I want to see 80000 people in Kolkata against Bangladesh".More news: Apple accuses Google researchers of 'stoking fear' about iPhone hack