The India National Football Team kicked off their AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 campaign with a disheartening 2-0 loss to Australia in a Group B match at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar on Saturday.

The Blue Tigers’ gritty effort fell short as the Socceroos edged past them to snatch the crucial three points in the Group B opener. Midfielder Jackson Irvine opened the scoring within five minutes from the start of the second half to give Australia their lead. In the 73rd minute of the match, right-back Jordan Bos doubled their lead by tapping the ball into an empty net, concluding the match 2-0 for Australia. 

The Indian backline showed a remarkable performance but moments of nervousness cost them the match.

One such moment came when Martin Boyle’s cross was pushed right to the feet of Irwin by the Indian custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, leading to the first goal of the night. The Bengaluru FC player went on to finish the match with four saves and one clearance. 

The 31-year-old felt that the team did well in the first half and in a game of small margins, it was the minute mistakes that allowed Australia to score.

“The first half was something that we should be very proud of. But it’s a game of small margins and if you give an inch to superior teams like this, they score,” stated Sandhu speaking to the ISL Media. 

Reflecting back on his mistake, he added, “I should have done better as well. But again, we should be learning from this experience as much as we can and rub it off and move on to the next two games.”

Sandhu believes that India weren't as aggression in the second half as the first and hopes that in the remaining fixtures, they maintain that aggression throughout the game and take their chances well. He expects the same to not get repeated in the remaining fixtures.

“As a team, we should make sure that we do not stop being aggressive. In the second half, we were a little bit more passive in terms of our defensive approach. Maybe (we should have) still been aggressive in that scenario if the game is still on. And, just take our chances, and be more clinical. I think the first half had 2-3 chances for us, maybe use that for us and take the game from there,” he concluded.