Bodog Life

Welcome to the Bodog Life!
Check your email for a
confirmation note.
page header page header

How the Indian man-mountain held reigning Asian Champions to a 0-0 draw

Rahul Dravid has always been ‘The Wall’, but until lately, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu made sure he earned that title too after holding Qatar to a 0-0 draw when the Blue Tigers faced reigning AFC Asia Cup champions in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

It was certain that India would face Qatar for their qualification match of the FIFA World Cup 2022, especially after both the nations were placed in the same group. The Blue Tigers, after a 2-1 defeat to Oman in their own backyard felt slightly nervous when they knew the next hurdle was even more strenuous.

India was in desperate need of strong leadership to guide them into the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha. Qatar looked certain of grasping an easy three points, as the odds seemed to be against the away team. They intended to groom their calibre over the weaker Indian side who could not afford another defeat to their tally.

But to everyone’s surprise, a resolute Indian side led by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu managed to hold the home team to a 0-0 draw. And they had their captain to thank as he outreached every Qatari attack from getting one into the back of the net till the end of the 90th minute.

Breaking bad news first

With rising tensions and serious retrospection around the Indian football team, the dark clouds began to hover above their ray of hope as leading goal scorer Sunil Chhetri was opted out of the line-up due to fever along with Ashique Kuruniyan, the goal scorer from their recent tie against Oman.

Without their main men, India were staring at a herculean task as they went ahead to face a stronger side. Given their baggage, India knew that a draw against Qatar was probably the best they could hope for.

The Wall

The match kicked off with an organised Qatari attack taking advantage of a trembling Indian defence as they began bombarding during the early stages of the match. But the tall, lanky and strong Indian goalkeeper made sure the team held its nerves.

While Qatar reaped the benefits of a troubled Indian backline, the one man they could not beat was Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. His quick reflexes had the Qataris caught up in mixed emotions as he saved every shot that came through. The six feet six inches tall goalkeeper diverted every wave of attack from his goal post, keeping the scores level at the end of the first half.

The hard-fought battle

During the first half, Almoez Ali gave the Blue Tigers plenty of reason to worry as he kept on striking the ball dangerously towards the Indian goal post. The Qatari skipper, Hassan Al-Haydos didn’t fall far behind in his team’s efforts to find a breakthrough.

The second half had a raging Qatar football team go all guns blazing with their defensive players joining the attack. However, the Indian pillar was ready for the next 45 minutes. He anticipated every move and attack, keeping the opponents at bay yet again. The one save that made the cut was when Gurpreet was blinded by his own players against a shot towards the bottom right corner of the goal. But the results speak for themselves as ‘The Wall’ deviated that one too.

India, amidst a defensive game, did manage to find a few breakthroughs but they too didn’t have much luck in scoring any. Igor Stimac and his boys rejoiced as they heard the whistles of the second half. They knew that the draw did not add effective points on the table, but their hard-fought battle increases their chances of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup. And they had their class apart goalkeeper to thank for it.

Photo credit: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu / Twitter