IM Vijayan believes draw against Qatar a major stride forward for Indian football

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Former Indian footballer IM Vijayan feels that India’s draw against Asian champions Qatar in World Cup qualifiers was a major stride for Indian football towards a golden future. He feels that the inspiring performance in the away match will boost the players ahead of the remaining fixtures.

A top quality Qatar team, which won the Asian Cup earlier this year, failed to register full points against a well-disciplined Indian defence in Doha a few days back. The Igor Stiamc coached side showed immense character and held the World no. 62 team to a goalless draw and snatch a vital away point in the Group E tie. IM Vijayan feels that the away result was immense in the context of Indian football's growth.

“Soaking in the relentless pressure from Qatar and stealing a point at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha in front of the vociferous crowd showed the nerves of steel developed by Stimac and his boys. Given Qatar’s credentials, this draw is a major stride for Indian football towards a golden future, “said the former Indian skipper.

India’s win over UAE in 2001 is among the biggest wins for India in international football in recent history. Vijayan was a part of the playing XI during that game but he feels that the draw against Qatar was huge.

“This was undoubtedly India’s biggest-ever result in international football in recent history. I say this keeping in mind India’s 1-0 victory over the UAE in 2001. I was part of that team. The victory over the UAE was big, but to me this is huge,” said Vijayan to The Telegraph.

Custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was the star of the show having denied the hosts a goal on several occasions. His mammoth effort was instrumental in India’s historic feat against the team which featured in the 2019 Copa America.

“Gurpreet was my Man of the Match. He led the team from the back. Keeping a clean sheet against the team that had scored 19 goals in seven matches in the Asian Cup is not something that you see every day. That’s what our boys did. Full marks to them.” said the former footballer.

India are scheduled to play Bangladesh in their next qualifier at the majestic Salt Lake Stadium on October 15. Vijayan is confident that the hosts are going to register an easy win over the neighbours.

“This result will work as a confidence booster for the team. We will play Bangladesh next on October 15 at Salt Lake Stadium and if everything goes well, we should win the match. We are firm favourites against Bangladesh,” said Vijayan.

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