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AN ABSOLUTE ROAR GOES OUT IN THE STADIUM AFTER FULL-TIME! This kmight not be a win, but it feels like one for India. What an incredible effort from the Blue Tigers to keep out the Asian Champions in their own yard. Qatar have been left frustrated, exhausted and downright disappointed but India will definitely take this point. Gurpreet was sensational with many important saves and basically keeping out everything thrown at him. The Jhingan-Adil combination worked phenomenally to keep Almoez Ali quiet throughout. Bheke and Mandar also put in industrious efforts, while Sahal-Thapa helped their backline with some fantastic man-marking and keeping India’s shape narrow. The Blue Tigers, including Stimac himself, are participating in the Viking Clap with the fans now. They deserve it after this effort. India are still in the 4th position in their group, but have been handed a huge boost of confidence with this unexpected result without Sunil Chhetri. THis is Uttiyo Sarkar signing off for Khel Now. Thanks and Good Night, Ladies and Gentlemen!
90+4′ Almost a last-minute heartbreak there! Tarek Salman comes forward and whips in a powerful shot which lukcily goes well wide.
90+3′ The Qatar players themselves look very tired now and a sloppy ball is sent in from Al-Haydos from the left, which is easily collected by Gurpreet.
90+2′ A final change from India here and it’s a defensive one, with Narender Gahlot coming in for Thapa. Stimac seems happy with a point here.
90′ Udanta is set forward again and is brought down inside the box, but a clean challenge rom AL-Rawi. Meanwhile, four minutes of added time is announced. Can India hold on?
89′ Chants of India India! are loud in the stadium now. Stimac’s men aren’t backing down and looking for an unpreidctable winner now.
87′ Qatar are throwing the kitchen sink for a goal now. But India look extremely confident in playing the ball out of defence, as a slew of slick passes shows off Stimac’s philosophy at its best.
85′ OFF THE BAR! Hassan takes another venomous shot from long range which is punched away by Gurpreet to Almoez, who’s rebound hits the post and out. However, it was offside anyways. Luck is definitely on Inda’s side today!
84′ India are getting quite a few counter-attacking opportunities late into the game. Udanta is still sprinting like a cheetah at this point of the game. The fitness levels seem to be improving game by game.
82′ UDANTA ALMOST! Manvir shows his physique to hold up the ball and play it forward for Udanta, who roughly beats Hassan and plays it to Thapa. The Chennaiyin FC man holds it up before relaying it back to him, as Singh’s shot goes just over the bat. So close!
80′ Gurpreet at it again! Qatar move the ball through the left and find Al-Haydos free on the left, as the captain attempts another curler which forces a strong grab from Gurpreet.
79′ CLOSE! Qatar move through the right as Mandar botches his clearance, falling to Salman whose cross is met by Alaaeldin, but his header goes just over.
75′ Another change from India as Sahal goes off for Vinit Rai. Meanwhile, Gurpreet makes another stunning diving save from a shot which wiggled through many bodies.
74′ Well, a Mexican wave has started in the stadium. There might not be any goals but the fans are definitely having fun in the stands regardless.
73′ Khoukhi takes another attempt at a long-range screamer from the right side, but it flies over the goal. Felix Sanchez isn’t any happy with that.
71′ Qatar make their second change, with Abdulaziz Hatem coming off for Ahmed Alaaeldin. Another striker option to give Almoez a partner in the front-line.
68′ Igor Stimac makes his first change of the game, with Brandon Fernandes coming in for Nikhil Poojary. Going for the goal here! Meanwhile, Jhingan is down here after Almoez had stamped him in a frustrated challenge.
66′ AH! After the free-kick had been cleared for a corner, Thapa takes India’s first corner which goes all the way to Sahal outside the box. He tries a left-footed volley, but its wide of the target.
64′ Some promising attacking stuff from the Blue Tigers here as Udanta gets some space to run into. He’s brought down by Hassan, giving India their first-freekick from promising range in the game.
63′ Hassan takes the free-kick which hits the four-man Indian wall. Qatar shout for a potential hand-ball, but it’s waved on.
62′ The Maroons get another free-kick from a dangerous area as Almoez is brought down just outside the box by a sloppy challenge from Mandar Rao Dessai.
61′ Qatar are forced to make a change as Yusuf goes on with Ismail Mohammed coming in for him.
60′ More tense moments for the Blue Tigers. Ro-Ro is the man who whips in a powerful cross into the middle, but Hatem can’t connect it properly before it’s cleared away.
57′ STRONG SAVE FROM GURPREET! Al-Haydos takes a whipped free-kick which is punched away, allowing Sahal to sprint forward in a counter-attack. He’s brought down by Assim Madibo, who sees a yellow-card. Could have been a red card considering Shal was through on goal.
56′ A poor challenge from Rowllin brings down Al-Haydos just outside the penalty area on the left. A dangerous position to concde the free-kick here.
53′ Fantastic defending from Jhingan to clear away danger. Adil gives away the ball to Al-Haydos in the middle, allowing him to play the ball into the right. Yusuf plays it to Almoez who relays it to Hatem, whose shot is blocked by the Indian Iron-man. Goal-saving stuff!
52′ India finally gets a counter-attack perfect as Sahal picks up the ball in his own half before allowing Udanta to march forward. He beats Hassan but his attempted cross goes well wide of his target.
49′ Qatar almost takes the lead minutes into the new half as Al-Haydos cuts in and finds a brilliant pass to Yusuf in the far post on the right, but his first touch allows Gurpreet to hold onto it. He was offside anyways, so wouldn’t have counted.
47′ Thapa is down on the ground again after a nasty clash of ankles with a Qatar player he ended up fouling. Igor Stimac will hope he’s fine, which looks the case.
46′ The second-half kicks off! Qatar get things rolling as they’ll be attacking from the right to left this half. They get right into attacking from the get-go, but India haven’ lost their defensive shape after the break.
HALF-TIME ANALYSIS: Well, it’s been a nervy but pretty impressive half from the Blue Tigers so far. Sitting deep, they’ve defended in numbers and frustrated the Maroons by maintaining a compact, unbreakable shape. Qatar have been forced to take long-shots but went very close to scoring late into the half. India must keep their concentration intact throughout the half as Qatar will capitalize on any given space to break their hearts in the second half. Going forward, India have been pretty ineffective as Sunil Chhetri and Ashique Kuruniyan’s chemistry is badly being missed. Stimac will probably make a few changes to tweak that. We’ll be back with the second-half coverage in a bit. Stay tuned, folks!
45+2′ Well Lady Luck is definitely on India’s side so far. Hassan brings the ball forward in a final lurge before finding Hatem inside the box, but his attempted shot cum pass can’t be tipped into an open goal by anyone. What an intense end to the half!
45+1′ AND GURPREET AGAIN! The ball finds its way to Almoez into the middle, allowing him to turn and take a left-footed attempt which is saved brilliantly by a diving Gurpreet before the rebound hits the sidenetting.
45′ Gurpreet with another strong save! Manvir loses the ball in the half-line, allowing Qatar to move forward in numbers as Hassan finds himself in promising shooting range in the middle before his powerful shot is punched away. Two minutes of added time is announced.
43′ The Qatar fans are making their noise felt trying to maraud their side forward. Meanwhile, the Manjapadda have also gathered in numbers in the stadium and are cheering on the Blue Tigers as we move closer to half-time.
41′ Well, another attempted long-ranger from the Maroons as this time Hassan takes a low shot which is collected by Gurpreet. Meanwhile, Qatar have attempted 11 shots this half as compared to India’s 0. That’s a harrowing stat.
40′ India are struggling on the counter-attack without Chhetri and Ashique here. The Blue Tigers finally get some of the ball in their half, but Rowllin’s attempted through-ball to send Udanta away is intercepted.
37′ A weak penalty shout from Qatar as Rahul Bheke steals the ball away from Al-Haydos, but the Qatar captain theatrically goes down for a penalty. The referee waves it on.
36′ India have also been really good when it comes to defending set-pieces this game. Al-Haydos sends in another inviting ball from a set-piece, but Adil Khan’s strong header clears out danger. Good confident stuff.
34′ Qatar almost get the opener! The ball is finally played the Almoez just inside the box, as he holds it up well before playing it to Yusuf, whose shot is superbly saved by Gurpreet’s legs but he was offside so it wouldn’t have counted anyways.
33′ Even Anirudh Thapa and Sahal Abdul Samad have done well to help their back-line by sitting deep and cutting out Qatar’s passes. They are unable to play the swift, attacking style they like but are doing everything to save the Blue Tigers from being exposed.
31′ Salman comes forward and tries another shot from long-range which goes well wide. India have done really well to frustrate Qatar with their narrow, compact defensive line which isn’t allowing their vicious through-balls.
29′ India finally get a chance to go forward as the ball is played to Udanta, who finds himself in a promising position but a bad touch gives the ball away to the Qatar defenders. Frustrating!
28′ Another Qatar long-shot brazes past the goal. This time its Bassam Al-Rawi, who’s long-ranger goes just past the side-netting.
25′ Qatar are piling on the pressure now after a relatively slow start. They’re go close to scoring once again with a corner, when Al-Haydos’ ball is flicked on by Poojary to Khoukhi in the far post but his header goes wide.
22′ Al-Haydos is toying with the Indian defence at this point. He receives the ball again, before skipping past three defenders and trying a spectacular goal only for his shot to go well wide.
20′ GURPREET AGAIN! Al-Haydos receives the ball in the left flank and he cuts back before taking a shot from outside the box which curls onto goal, but Gurpreet tips it over in the last moment.
19′ India get another bail-out there. Ro-Ro comes inward and goes on a brilliant run into the box before playing Almoez Ali, who can’t control the ball properly before Adil clears it away to the right-back who’s offside trying to recover possession.
17′ Thapa goes down in a heap after being victim of a horrible studs-up challenge by Yuusf. Much to Igor Stimac’s surprise, the Qatar player isn’t booked for that!
16′ India have seen very little of the ball so far, with Qatar taking things relatively easy when trying to create chances. They’re being a bit frustrated by India’s impressive defensive shape, with Adil Khan and Sandesh Jhingan looking comfortable keeping their defensive line in tact.
13′ CLOSE AGAIN! Mandar Rao Dessai makes a brain-fade by misspassing the ball to Abdulaziz Hatem just outside the box, but his attempted curler just goes wide of the goal. Lucky escape that!
10′ Gurpreet saves again! Yusuf does really well to dribble past a few bodies from the right towards the middle before finding his captain Al-Haydos on the left, but his shot is saved superbly by a diving Gurpreet.
8′ OH! Gurpreet is forced to make another save as Boualem Khoukhi takes the ball forward and passes it to Hassan Al-Haydos, who’s low shot is saved well.
6′ Qatar get their first shot on target as centre-back Tarek Salman comes marauding forward but his shot is collected comfortably by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
4′ The Maroons are looking to catch India’s compact defensive line sleeping by flinging in long-balls to their wingers. Hassan tries one with Yusuf, but the ball ends up going out.
2′ Qatar have started the game on the front-foot and already look a nightmare by piling men forward. They play a few sweet passes through the middle, but Yusuf Abdurisag ends up fouling Nikhil Poojary.
1′ AND WE KICKOFF! The Blue Tigers start the proceedings, moving from the right to left. The ball is straight passed to Udanta Singh forward on the right, but he ends up fouling Abdelkarim Hassan.
9:55 PM- The players are making their way into the stadium. Barcelona legend Xavi Hernandez can be seen watching the game from the stands. He of course, manages Qatar side Al Saad. We will have the national anthems and pre-match rituals followed by kick-off soon. Stay tuned, folks!
9:50 PM- The Qatar fans unveiled a huge tifo celebrating their AFC Asian Cup success earlier this year in the game against Afghanistan. After that euphoria, the popularity for football has amplified in the country. The Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium has already started to fill out and one can expect a difficult atmosphere for the Blue Tigers, with only 8% of the tickets being allocated for the visiting Indian fans.
9:45 PM- Almoez Ali bagged a fantastic hattrick in Qatar’s win over Afghanistan last week. His battle with Sandesh Jhingan will definitely be one to watch throughout the 90 minutes. There will be multiple other key battles to decide the result. Here we took a look at five such key battles to watch out for.
9:40 PM- Qatar and India haven’t really met many times in the International stage, but the Maroons swapped aside the Blue Tigers 6-0 the last time they did in the FIFA World Cup qualifier back in 1996. Can Stimac’s men change that record? Let us know in the comments below..
9:35 PM- Well, it seems like Qatar have thrown a real curve-ball at the Blue Tigers here with their formation. Akram Afif was confirmed to be out for the game with an injury, forcing Qatar to shift to what seems like a 4-3-3 formation with Al-Haydos on the right and Yusuf on the left. Of course, knowing their dynamic nature, Felix Sanchez Bas can change that up whenever he wants. The Maroons have sure packed their midfield knowing India’s defensive nature and will look to penetrate forward in numbers.
9:30 PM- Here’s how Qatar have lined up for the evening:
Qatar XI: Al Sheeb, Ro-Ro, Khoukhi, Al-Rawi, Salman, Hassan, Hatem, Madibo, Yusuf, Al-Haydos, Almoez.
Subs: Mukhtar, Fatehi, Kheder, Al-Hajri, Boudiaf, Alaaeldin, Barshram, Al Bakri, Al-Ahrak.
9:25 PM- Qatar squatted aside a disappointing Afghanistan side 6-0 in their qualifying rounds opener in the weekend. They scored four in the first half itself and are absolutely unrelenting at home. Expect them to have the lions share of chances, but India must take advantage of whatever they get to make sure to convert the chances created.
9:20 PM- It’s a bold move from Igor Stimac to continue with his 4-man defence against the Asian Champions. Rowllin Borges, of course, will play a part in anchoring his back-line to intercept attacks and get India rolling forward. However, Anirudh Thapa and Sahal Abdul Samad are both key towards dropping deep and making sure his defenders aren’t exposed to Qatar’s dominant front four. Similarly, Nikhil and Udanta must track back to keep up with the Maroons overlapping wing-backs.
9:15 PM- This game will be a massive task for Manvir Singh, only making his second start under Igor Stimac in the new system. He’s been preferred ahead of the more-experience Balwant Singh and his physique, hold-up play will be key towards opening up space for Udanta, Sahal and Nikhil.
9:10 PM- So the not-so shocking surprise of the day is that captain Sunil Chhetri doesn’t feature in the first 18 at all. He picked up high fever recently and will be a big miss at the front. However, the real shock is Ashique Kuruniyan’s absence from the side. Nikhil Poojary gets a start instead, his first after almost two years!
9:05 PM- Here are the team news for the game!
India XI: Gurpreet, Bheke, Adil, Jhingan, Mandar, Sahal, Thapa, Rowllin, Udanta, Poojary, Manvir.
Subs: Kamaljit, Amrinder, Kotal, Subhashish, Narender, Anas, Brandon, Vinit, Chhangte, Ashique, Balwant.
9:00 PM- Hello everyone! It is a wonderful atmosphere at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in the capital of Qatar, Doha, and the Indian National Team is all set to face Qatar in their second game of the FIFA World Cup 2022 AFC Qualifier Round 2. The weather is near to perfect and spectators are coming in to experience the game. This is your host Uttiyo Sarkar, and I hope you enjoy the game with me.