10-man India lost to Qatar 1-0 in the World Cup cum Asian Cup qualifiers on Thursday night courtesy of Abdulaziz Hatem's solitary strike in the first half.
India lost 0-1 to Qatar in the World Cup cum Asian Cup qualifiers round match held at the Jassim Bin Hamad stadium. Abdulaziz Hatem was the player who scored the goal. Rahul Bheke got a second yellow card in the 17th minute and he was sent off. Indians defended bravely to keep the margin of defeat to just one goal. Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu had an excellent game to resist the wave of attacks by the Qataris. Although India made some exciting counter-attacks they lacked the cutting edge.
Unsurprisingly Igor Stimac’s side started with a defensive lineup. This consisted of three at the back and Bheke and Ashique Kuruniyan deployed as wing-backs. The plan was clear, to sit back and soak the pressure and hit the opposition on counter-attack. But things got worse as Bheke blocked a ball with his hand which the referee felt was intentional.
The Blue Tigers played the rest of the match with 10-man. Midfielder Suresh Wangjam moved to the right-back and struggled to contain the attacks from the left-wing. A Qatari attack from the left-wing led to the winning goal. Through-ball from left-back AbdelKarim found the run of Amoez Ali inside the penalty area. The forward’s cut back went to Muhammad Muntari infront of goal. He passed the ball to Abdulaziz to poke in and make the scoreline 1-0 for the hosts.
Just before the interval, a looped through ball found AbdelKarim inside the penalty box. His attempt got saved by Gurpreet. The Blue Tigers did create some half chances. Manvir Singh was not able to get a decent connection to a teasing low cross from Ashique following a counter-attack. Two minutes from halftime, Sunil Chhetri played Manvir through but the attempt was saved.
Abdelkarim was in the thick of most of the Qatari attacks. Gurpreet’s quick reflex save denied Muntari from close range six minutes after the restart. Five minutes from time Abdullah Al-Ahrak’s dipping long ranger hit the woodwork. Qatar had 38 attempts and 10 of them were on target. India had only one solitary attempt.
The win helped Qatar to 19 points from seven games with six victories. Their only draw was against India in the reverse fixture in 2019. On the other hand, India remained at fourth position with three points from six games. India are out of the reckoning for World Cup qualification but is vying for a spot in the Asian Cup 2023. India will next play Bangladesh on June 7.