Updated: May 31, 2021 2:35:54 pm
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, the first-choice goalkeeper of India, credited the team’s self-belief and cohesion as being the decisive factors behind India’s impressive 0-0 draw against Qatar in Doha in September 2019.
The 29-year-old shot-stopper put up a heroic display between the sticks that night, registering 11 saves in the FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifier at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium against the AFC Asian Cup holders.
Gurpreet, who is currently with the national team in Doha for an upcoming FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifier against Qatar on June 3, reminisced about that goalless draw in an interview with AIFF.
“The plan on matchday was to make life difficult for Qatar. They had won the AFC Asian Cup earlier that year and were buzzing after playing in the Copa America. We had to stay compact against them, and take our chances whenever we smelt a counter. And with that, we had to fight with everything. Everyone was desperate to contribute – everyone was trying their best,” he told AIFF.
“The clock started ticking, and we started to grow in confidence. The first-half ended goalless. We could gauge the frustrations around as the predictions that we would be whitewashed weren’t coming true. It allowed us to breathe a bit more. We realised we were heading in the right direction.”
“‘Take some blows guys, we can do it,’ was the sentiment. The pressure was huge, but the belief was more.”
“The dynamics were even better in the second half. Seeing Sahal, Udanta dribble past the best in Asia was a message which hit them hard. It was a great boost. We were not just defending, rather we were attacking and pushing them on the back foot on occasions.”
“Almost everyone I speak to always makes me remember about the Qatar match. But if you ask me, that isn’t my best performance so far. I understand that in the Qatar match, we got a result – and hence, it will always stay a highlight,” he concluded.
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