With their 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification hopes hanging by a thread after a 1-2 loss to Oman in their campaign opener, the Indian national football team are set to face Qatar in their second Group E fixture. The match is scheduled to take place at Doha's Jassim bin Hamad Stadium, September 10, 10:00 PM IST. Speaking during the pre-match press conference, Blue Tigers' head coach Igor Stimac feels that it is difficult to find any weakness in Felix Sanchez Bas' outfit, but his team won't give up against them.
A loss to Qatar could mean drastically leave India's World Cup qualification chances at the hands of lady luck, with only a 2023 AFC Asian Cup slot left to fight for.
Having won the 2019 edition of the continental showpiece, the hosts of the 2022 World Cup will be aiming to continue their fine form after coasting past Afghanistan in their previous match.
"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," said Stimac.
"But in football, everything is possible. You never give up," he quipped.
With a huge difference in individual FIFA Ranking, India (103) need to improve their defensive problems ahead of their Qatar (62) test.
“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," stated Stimac.
India's second half performance against Oman was heavily criticized by fans concerning the fitness of the players. Stimac feels that it is not a concern as effectiveness of running is important.
“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.”
Stimac also revealed that he is currently 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.
Meanwhile, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu - who was also present during the pre-match press conference - revealed that his team will try to get a positive result against their upcoming opponents.
“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.
India and Qatar have met each other only once in senior level in 1996, when the former lost 6-0 in the 1998 World Cup qualifiers. The two countries have also met four times in U-23 competitions with Qatar winning thrice with the other ending in a draw.
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