Ten-man India fight bravely before going down against Asian champions Qatar

Image credit: IndianFootball@Twitter

India, under Igor Stimac, fought bravely but couldn’t avoid a 1-0 defeat in their 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Asian champions Qatar at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Thursday night. Abdelaziz Hatem scored the only goal of the match in the 33rd minute. The Indians suffered a big blow in the 17th minute after Rahul Bheke received a red card.

  • Abdelaziz Hatem broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute.
  • Rahul Bheke received his marching orders early in the game.
  • Glan Martins impressed one and all on his India debut.

Qatar started aggressively without wasting any time but Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was equal to the task. Shortly after tipping over an off-target strike from Yousuf Abdurisag, he stopped an effort from Abdelkarim Hassan from the edge of the box. These weren’t exactly big chances but clearly spoke of Qatar’s intention.

In the 12th minute, Abdurisag found Abdelaziz Hatem inside the box from the right but the latter couldn’t keep his shot on target. The Indian defenders had no respite and were struggling to keep the ball out of their defensive third. Things took a turn for the worse in the 17th minute after Bheke was shown a red card on account of a handball, deemed intentional by the referee.  

Seven minutes later, the Qataris came close to breaking the deadlock but Hassan couldn’t keep his header from a Hatem corner on target as the ball sailed over the bar.

Against the run of play, a few minutes later Ashique Kuruniyan tried to find Manvir Singh from the left through a brilliant ball, however, the Indian striker was a little slow to get to the ball as his marker outpaced him to thwart the danger. At the other end, Qatar at last succeeded in getting their first goal in the 33th minute. In a goalmouth melee, Hatem found the opportunity to put the ball in the back of the net – although it took a deflection off Gurpreet’s foot on the way in.

Amid the Qatari dominance, in the 44th minute, Manvir had another opportunity but his shot was blocked inside the box. Hassan then had only Gurpreet to beat but the Indian shot-stopper did well to throw himself into the line of the shot just before the break. 

Qatar started the second half in the same vein with India replacing captain Sunil Chhetri with Udanta Singh at the break. Hassan had a couple of really good opportunities early on. In the 52nd minute, Mohammed Muntari came up with a full-blooded shot but Gurpreet stood firm and pushed the ball away.

Chances were coming in spades for Felix Sanchez’s men but resolute defending from the Indians, particularly from Gurpreet in goal, didn’t allow them to add to their one-goal lead. Debutant Glan Martins, before being replaced by Lalengmawia a few minutes after the hour mark, impressed too and ran around a lot to ensure things didn’t completely go out of control from an Indian point of view.

Late into the game Qatar were denied yet again, though this time by the post as Abdullah Al Ahrak was left disappointed.

India are already out of contention for the 2022 World Cup but can still make it to the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. However, after Thursday night’s defeat, they need to get favourable results in their remaining two matches. The Blue Tigers next play Bangladesh on June 7 before lining up against Afghanistan on June 15. Earlier in the day, Bangladesh and Afghanistan played out a 1-1 draw in Group E.


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