The Blue Tigers extended their winless run to 11 games, the longest this century.
It was not to be. India played out an intense battle against the Qatar football team, to lose by a solitary goal courtesy of Abdulaziz Hatem. The goal came in the 34th minute after Rahul Bheke was sent off for a second punishable offense in the 17th minute. The Blue Tigers were on the back foot for the majority of the game, but survived a drubbing mainly due to a standout outing by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu between the sticks.
Here are the Indian players’ ratings for the encounter.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu: 8.0
If it weren’t for India’s Great Wall, the score would have looked much more bleaker for the Blues. While he started nervously, he grew into the game pulling off stop after stop to deny the Qatari attack from improving their goal tally.
Gurpreet registered a whopping nine saves and also dealt with teasing crosses with relatable ease. He also had three clearances, as India managed to produce a stellar fight on the defensive end of the pitch.
Sandesh Jhinghan: 7.0
Six clearances, four blocked shots, two interceptions and as many tackles. The centre-back had a standout performance in the defensive line, marred by the unfortunate goal in the first half. He was a huge positive presence for India and proved to be extremely efficient in dealing with crosses from the Qatar team’s wings.
Pritam Kotal: 6.5
While Jhinghan galvanized against the aerial threat, Pritam Kotal stayed solid on the ground. He had 11 clearances and two tackles to go along with six key interceptions. He also won 75% of his ground duels and held fort to prevent Qatar from doubling their advantage.
Rahul Bheke: 3.5
A very short-lived return to the national stage for the defender. An early challenge saw him get a yellow card before getting a second for a needless handball. Both cards seemed harsh, but proved to be costly for his team.
Subhasish Bose: 6.0
Subhashish Bose had quite the eventful game, as he provided great support to both his club-mates. He had seven clearances as well as three blocked shots and was constantly alert to deal with the testy crosses that were being fired into the box.
Ashique Kuruniyan: 5.5
Kuruniyan looked out of place playing as a wing-back in the five-man defence. He over-committed on several occasions, especially during the opening goal, as his man managed to get free and poke the ball into goal.
He was the main attacking outlet and managed to carve a chance with a teasing cross for Manvir Singh. The Bengaluru FC man even registered a 67% dribble success
Glan Martins: 6.5
Glan had an impressive debut for India against Qatar. He played a good screening role in front of the defence, bothering the Qatari frontline with his timely interceptions. The FC Goa midfielder registered three tackles while winning 50% of his ground duels. He looked undaunted and mature for the majority of the game, but could have done better with his outlet passes.
Suresh Singh Wangjam: 6.5
Wangam’s flexibility was very impressive. The youngster started in the midfield, but quickly transitioned into the full-back role after the red card. He proved to be able cover and although he lacked the pace, he held his ground while facing wave after wave of Qatari attacks. He even won 67% of his ground duels, while making two key tackles and clearances.
Manvir Singh: 5.5
Manvir was the most active of all offensive players in the lineup. He found himself repeatedly in crucial positions, but failed to capitalize on them. He had a shot blocked in the first half and also missed another opportunity from a teasing Ashique cross.
His ball-retention was appalling, as he lost possession 16 times. His performance although promising, was a far cry from his best.
Bipin Singh: 5.5
The Mumbai City midfielder looked far from his best during his stint on the pitch. The India star was unable to use his pace and looked overpowered by the Qatar defenders. He failed to complete even one dribble and lost possession 15 times.
Sunil Chhetri: 5.0
Chhetri was active within the defensive shape of the side, but he failed to exert any influence on either side of the pitch. He only registered 16 touches, while winning 33% of his aerial duels and looked isolated for most of the game. He was subbed off for the more explosive Udanta Singh at the turn of the half.
Udanta Singh: 5.0
Udanta was brought in to inject life into the attack, but he failed to do that. He was sloppy in position, losing the ball eight times and failed to utilize his pace to exploit openings. Similar to Bipin, he failed to attempt a single dribble during the second half.
Lalengmawia ‘Apuia’ Ralte: N/A
The NorthEast United youngster was barely visible during his 22 plus minutes. He registered only nine touches, failing to do anything noteworthy.
Akash Mishra: N/A
Akash made a timely clearance after a shot cannoned off the post.
Sahal Abdul Samad: N/A
Sahal looked nimble on his feet, but failed to exert any real influence during his short stint.
Liston Colaco: N/A
Did not produce anything of note during his short stay on the pitch.