Indian stars insist they have moved on from UAE defeat and promise good show in Doha

March 29, 2021, a disappointing day in Indian football to all intents and purposes. India had lined up against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Dubai in an international friendly after the high of a 1-1 draw against Oman a few days before. Expectations were really high from the Blue Tigers in light of how they had fared against Oman despite debuts for as many as 10 players; in light of how spectacularly Manvir Singh had equalised by dint of a header in the second half of that encounter.

However, in what turned out to be a forgettable night, they suffered a 6-0 defeat, their biggest in over a decade. If truth be told, it was a bitter pill to swallow.

Almost two months on, Igor Stimac’s men have gathered again. This time in Doha for India’s remaining three matches in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 qualifiers, and they have been training hard in the preparatory camp in the Qatari capital before the challenges come one by one in the form of Qatar (June 3), Bangladesh (June 7) and Afghanistan (June 15).

While it’s undeniably going to be a fresh start for the bunch, the defeat against the UAE remains embedded in the national psyche. To dispel the fear that something like that can happen again, some of the Indian stars have insisted in their interaction with the AIFF Media that the nightmare against the Emiratis is a thing of the past. Let’s see who has said what as India gear up for some international football for the second time this year.       

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

The less we think about it, the better. It’s past. But it’s significant to remember what happened as it drives us to understand the part we need to work upon. We have three clean slates in front of us. It’s up to us as to what we need to write upon them.

Pritam Kotal

The perspective of Dubai and Doha are entirely different. In Dubai, we played two different teams in the two matches. That was our return to international football after almost 16 months. The two matches enabled us to slap all the negatives. June will surely be better.

Manvir Singh

Friendly matches always present a chance to set an aim to improve yourself. Dubai was different, Doha will be entirely different. But yeah, Dubai helped us a lot in many aspects. In that sense, the mixed bag in Dubai has been extremely helpful.

Anirudh Thapa

We made a huge positive impact against Oman – that too with 10 debutants. I always look at the positives, and that to me was a huge result for Indian football. In the qualifiers, we will have a full squad at our disposal. The Dubai results will have absolutely no impact in Doha.

Suresh Wangjam

Dubai is past. As professional players, the past never affects us. Players are professional enough and understand how to react on the pitch. In Doha, we are the underdogs. Let’s not forget, that in Dubai, we never had our full strength at our disposal.

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