Gurpreet Singh Sandhu: India’s defensive hero recalls 2019 Qatar showdown in World Cup Qualifiers

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu reminisces about India’s historic defensive display against Qatar in the 2019 World Cup Qualifiers.

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, the stalwart of India’s football squad, reflects on a memorable encounter during the 2019 World Cup Qualifiers against Qatar, setting the stage for the upcoming clash in the 2026 qualifiers.

In a remarkable defensive showcase, India commenced the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers with a victory in Kuwait. However, the real challenge arrives as they face Asian champions Qatar at the Kalinga Stadium.

Despite Qatar’s higher FIFA ranking (61) compared to India’s (102), history tells a different story. The goalless draw in 2019 in Doha stands as one of Indian football’s most remarkable moments, thanks to the formidable presence of Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.


Recalling the intense encounter, Sandhu, who led the team in Sunil Chhetri’s absence, emphasized the collective effort: “It was an unforgettable night for all of us. Our goal was simple—to make it tough for the opponent, stay resilient, and see what we could achieve.”

Sandhu’s goalkeeping heroics, marked by 11 crucial saves in the first encounter and nine in the subsequent match against Qatar, showcased the team’s defensive strength. His record 25th clean sheet against Kuwait reflects his excellence, yet he credits the team effort above individual achievements.

Expressing his perspective, Sandhu stated, “While numbers matter, it’s the team’s success that truly counts. Every clean sheet is earned collectively by the 10 players in front, not just the goalkeeper.”

Anticipating the upcoming clash with Qatar, Sandhu believes in the team’s growth and readiness to script a new chapter. “We’ve evolved, grown stronger, and have players who’ve bonded over time. Our recent performances speak volumes about our progress. It’s time to look ahead and create new milestones,” he affirmed, eyeing a victorious outcome on home turf.


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