Preview: Wounded India fancy a ‘miraculous’ upset over hosts Qatar
Sportsbet.io previews India’s second qualifying fixture against 2022 World Cup hosts Qatar.
After a disheartening defeat in their opening World Cup qualifier, India face a daunting task to subdue the threat of Asian giants Qatar who recorded an overwhelming victory over Afghanistan in their first round game. We discuss in brief how the Asian teams are shaping up ahead of the fixture.
Qatar began their qualification campaign in style with a 6-0 drubbing of Afghanistan. The Maroons have maintained a strong balance between a pace-driven style of play and a clinical sense of conversion, and thus start as odds-on favourites against India.
The Blue Tigers, on the other hand, were looking for answers at the end of their 2-1 loss to Oman. After a decisive first half, the defence’s complacency was exposed and head coach Igor Stimac will demand the Blue Tigers to stitch up their best act in order to restrict the swift movement of Qatar’s players.
The nations have officially met just once, with Qatar emerging victorious with a 6-0 scoreline in the FIFA World Cup qualifier in September, 1996.
One of the hottest attacking prospects in Asia currently, Almoez Ali has scored 13 goals in 12 matches for Qatar this year, including a career second hat-trick against Afghanistan in the opening qualifier matchup.
Sandesh Jhingan, India’s defence general, has registered 49 successful clearances in seven games in 2019 but was off-colour in the second half of Thursday’s defeat to Oman.
This key battle will surely raise eyebrows otherwise in a fixture that is expected to be dominated with intensity and drama.
Against Qatar' attacking robustness, custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu faces a daunting task of co-ordinating a defensively astute approach and possibly keeping a 'miraculous' clean sheet between the sticks. The 27-year-old has made 25 saves in seven games this year and is poised to be the most busy man on the pitch.
Words: William PaulImages: PA