Blue Tigers look to take the fight to Qatar

DOHA (QATAR): The history book points out that India have never beaten Qatar in an official match. The history book also points out that Qatar are the defending Asian Champions, and one among the two Asian teams who earned an invitation to play the Copa America Brazil 2019.

Nevertheless, a day before India take on Qatar in the Group E match of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 joint qualifiers, Indian National Team Head Coach Igor Stimac stressed “anything is possible in football.” Stimac was speaking at the official pre-match press conference in Doha.

“I know the Qatar team pretty well. Their physical strength is great, and their technical capabilities, and movements are fantastic. It’s difficult to find any weak point in their squad,” Stimac stated.

“But in Football, everything is possible. You never give up,” he added.

The match slated to take place at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha and will kick-off at IST 10 PM (7.30 PM local time) tomorrow (September 10, 2019). The Blue Tigers are currently ranked 103 in the latest FIFA Ranking while the hosts are in 62nd place.

“We didn’t have much time after the Oman game. Even as we know Qatar are a very good team, we are trying to give everything on the pitch. So we have been working on the players, and talking to them on how to prepare.”

Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, mentioned that it is a “good opportunity to play Qatar.”

“Not getting a result against Oman was disappointing for us. But as a player you have to take it in your stride, and move on to the next challenge. We think it’s a good opportunity to play against Qatar. We will try our best, and try to get a result from the game,” Gurpreet commented.

Referring back to India’s 1-2 loss against Oman in their opening Group E fixture where India conceded two goals in the last 8 minutes, Stimac dismissed talks of fitness worries playing spoilsport.

“Fitness is not a concern. Effectiveness of running is important. A more experienced team would have known when and how to run. We were wasting too much of our energy.”

The two teams have just met once at the senior level, way back in 1996, Qatar had pumped in half a dozen, winning 6-0 in the World Cup Qualifiers for FIFA World Cup France 1998. Apart from that, the two countries have met four times in U-23 competitions with Qatar having won thrice, while the other ended in a draw.

The Croatian coach who guided Croatia to qualify for the FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 also explained that he is “working on developing more young players”.

“It’s still early days for me. We haven’t got enough match time. We played well against Oman, we had better possession, more chances, especially in the first half. We are a young team, learning and growing with every step,” he quipped.

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