The Blue Tigers held the reigning Asian champions in the second game of the round on Tuesday night.
The Indian football team managed to eke out a point against Qatar in their second game of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers on Tuesday night. The stalemate against the current Asian champions has given the team much-needed confidence, that could see them finish at least as the second-best side of the group.
As soon as the final whistle blew, congratulatory messages started coming in for the Blue Tigers with all the fans, coaches and former players applauding the team for their resilience against a much superior outfit.
Former captain Bhaichung Bhutia also came out to congratulate the team for their efforts. He acknowledged that the goalless draw would instill confidence in the team as well as the players.
He praised the players for the performances not only in the second match, but also against Oman last week. However, Bhutia was also quick to caution them that the output has to be consistent and not a one-off occurence.
“It was a big achievement, drawing against Asian champions Qatar and that too in Qatar. This match should motivate the players to do well and instill confidence for the upcoming matches (of the World Cup Qualifiers),” Bhutia told PTI.
“The boys have played well against Oman and Qatar and if they continue in the same way, there can be a possibility for India to make it to the next round, you never know. But, it should not be a one-off performance and they should maintain it in the matches coming up,” he added.
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu turned hero against Qatar, as the custodian made 11 saves in the game. The goalkeeper, often criticized for not being able to deal with low shots, looked quick and very comfortable, as he stood tall against the Qataris.
“He was simply outstanding and he was the main reason (for the draw),” the 42-year-old Bhutia said of the stand-in captain.
Igor Stimac brought a good change, a much-needed one after the team faltered against Oman due to a lack of fitness. The team looked more compact and a non-penetrable force, as they maintained their shape throughout the game.
However, he refrained from commenting on the coach. For Bhutia, there’s still time to make any judgement about the Croatian. He said, “India defended really well, the players maintained the shape and remained compact throughout.
“Against Oman, India were dominating in the first half, but let in two late goals. So, against Qatar, it was very scary (thinking India may concede late goals) but in the end, they were able to keep their nerves and did not commit any mistake.
“It is too early to say anything about the coach. India has done well so far in these World Cup Qualifiers and it should not be about one match or two matches. It should be consistent,” Bhutia concluded.