Former India captain Bhaichung Bhutia on Wednesday hailed the Blue Tiger’s valiant effort in the goalless draw against reigning Asian champions Qatar in the World Cup qualifiers, terming the result as a “great achievement”.
“It was a big achievement, drawing against Asian champions Qatar and that too in Qatar. This match should motivate the players to do well and instil confidence in the upcoming matches (of the World Cup qualifiers),” Bhutia told PTI.
“The boys have played well against Oman and Qatar and if they continue in the same way, there can be a possibility for India to make it to the next round, you never know. But it should not be a one-off performance and they should maintain it in the matches coming up,” he added.
After a heart-wrenching 2-1 defeat to the hands of Oman on 5 September, Igor Stimac’s boys on Tuesday survived waves of attacks from Qatar to hold them to a goalless draw and steal an unexpected point from their away match of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers in Doha.
India play their third Group E match against Bangladesh in Kolkata on 15 October, followed by games against Afghanistan (away match) on 14 November and Oman (in Muscat) on 19 November. India will play against Qatar in their home match on 26 March next year.
Talking about the match against Qatar, goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who was recently awarded the Arjuna award, made a string of saves to keep the hosts at bay for the entire duration of the match. Qatar had 27 shots on target in India’s goal and yet failed to beat a resilient Gurpreet.