As India held Asian champions Qatar to a goalless draw in the qualifying tournament for the FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023, goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu said that he is extremely proud of what the team achieved in Doha.
Even though the hosts threw everything at India, the visitors - led by goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu - stood tall against incessant waves of attack to play out a goalless draw against a team ranked 41 places above them in the Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings.
The result can be seen as a remarkable effort as Qatar is placed at the 62nd position in the Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings whereas India is on the 103rd spot.
And a defeat against Asian champions Qatar (playing their second game at home), would dampen India's chances of finishing in the top two in their group and qualifying for the next round of World Cup qualifiers.
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.
In fact, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia are the only other teams apart from India who have walked away with a clean-sheet against Qatar this year.
At halftime, the hosts were left high and dry as they went into the break 0-0.
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"Against Oman, India were dominating in the first half but let in two late goals".
The eight group winners and the four best runners-up advance to the third round of qualification for the World Cup.
"We have played two matches, that too against two powerful teams, and we have played well".
Midfielder Sahal Abdul Samad, drafted into the starting line-up in place of Brandon Fernandes, credited Stimac for freeing up the players after a first half where the Indian goal appeared to be under siege more often than not.
The side next take on Bangladesh at the colossal Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan on October 15.
Igor Stimac says he has told the players to stay grounded as they can't afford complacency during FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
The match will start from 10 PM IST and will be live on Star Sports 3 and Asianet Plus. "They created more chances today but we also had many chances", Stimac said. Can not describe how proud I am at this moment. I want to see 80,000 people in Kolkata against Bangladesh.