Gurpreet: It was our teamwork which brought about the result
Igor Stimac’s Blue Tigers put in a sensational display on Tuesday to deny Asian champions Qatar in their own backyard and earned themselves a valuable point to get off the mark in Group E of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 joint qualifiers round 2. With Sunil Chhetri missing the match due to illness, goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu captained the side and came up with what probably was his best display in an India shirt. The ace custodian thwarted the mighty Qatari side time and again en route to leading his side to a famous result.
Despite his immense contributions in engineering the magical night at Doha, the 27-year-old, after the match, diverted all the praise towards the team and said, "I feel extremely proud of the team for our performance against Qatar. The team-effort helped us achieve the result. It will help us immensely in the qualifiers."
"We have played just two matches, and we have played well, that too against two powerful teams. It gives us that added motivation and confidence that in football, anything is possible. Everyone played their hearts out and gave everything out on the pitch. That enabled us to come back to the dressing room, satisfied, and with a very crucial point," he added.
Gurpreet then went on to express his gratitude to the Indian football team fans who turned up in numbers at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium. Even though thoroughly outnumbered by the home supporters, the ones in the stands more than made up for their numerical inferiority with their vociferous and passionate support for the team. "It was like playing at home away from home. The support was incredible. They spurred us on, cheering us all throughout," a grateful Gurpreet stated.
To recall, this isn't the first time Gurpreet has stepped up in a big way against illustrious opponents on the big stage. The 2019 Arjuna Award winner has done it for club and country on several occasions in the past, most notably against the People's Republic of China last year. Much like the Qatar match, Gurpreet stood as a wall to help India secure a memorable draw against the Red Dragons on their own home turf.
India and Gurpreet will surely look to use the result against Qatar as a launchpad to embark on a successful Qualifiers campaign and hopefully make their way to the next round. India's next match will be against Bangladesh on October 15 in Kolkata.