When India takes on the Asian champions Qatar in qualifying for the 2022 World Cup and the 2023 Asian Cup at Yassim Bin Hamad Stadium on June 3, they may have a sense of déjà vu from their previous visit.
It is at this stadium that India has achieved possibly one of their best results in recent times, when they kept the people of Felix Sanchez Bass to a 0-0 draw in September 2019.
But this time the challenge will be more difficult. Not only because Qatar will seek corrections, but also Indian players will be in competitive action for the first time since March 2021.
However, the conditions for playing in Qatar will not be a problem, says midfielder Rowlin Borges. Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium was one of the first stadiums in Qatar to receive cooling technology in 2011, which means that even if temperatures rise in Qatar, players will feel comfortable on the pitch.
“The cooling technology at the stadium is amazing. You know it’s very hot in Qatar. But you’ll get a cool mood at the stadium. It keeps you refreshed. It was the first time I saw something like this at a stadium. Even in the 85th minute I will stay fresh when that air blows. You feel like you can keep running, “Borges told Gol.
His team-mate in the center of the park, Brandon Fernandez, who came in as a substitute during the match, echoed his thoughts closely.
“The last time we were in Qatar, the stadium was pretty cool. There was no humidity. It was pretty well conditioned. (There were) amazing conditions for playing football. In fact, Qatar has great infrastructure and world-class football facilities. It will be a great feeling to I play at the home of Al Sadd. I look forward to a good experience playing there, “said the FC Goa midfielder.
India is already training in Qatar before qualifying for the World Cup, after the hosts waived the mandatory 10-day quarantine for the Blue Tigers.
When they take over the Asian champions on June 3, the result of the previous match will also increase their morale a lot. Qatar was in rich form and was not defeated on Asian soil. They had scored 25 goals in eight games and the Indian defense forced them to draw a gap.
“We were motivated to do better. We were disappointed after the match against Oman. We wanted a better result from this match, but we didn’t get it. The motivation and dissatisfaction we held showed against Qatar. I think that’s why we got a good result. It was a huge result. You can see the celebrations on the pitch, “Borges said, recalling memories from the previous meeting.
The FC Goa midfielder started this game. His performance was praised for his incredible speed as he absorbed the tension and tried to block the crossings in an attempt to help his fellow defenders.
It should be noted that only teams such as Brazil, Argentina and Colombia, with the exception of the Men in Blue, managed to keep a clean sheet against Qatar this year.
“We entered the match with positive thinking. We knew that Qatar is a very good team and we can’t afford to give up early. We wanted to be in the game until the second half and after we had momentum, we tried to create opportunities. It was a great game for us and we defended really well, “Fernandez recalled.
Fernandez, who was recruited as a late substitute, also played a role in initiating counterattacks and dropping deep when needed to help his teammates. Needless to say, the ISL (Indian Super League) top aid provider will be a vital sprocket in India’s midfield in the upcoming matches.
If Igor Shtimak’s men manage to show a positive result against Qatar, the achievement will overshadow the previous one, especially because the circumstances are much more challenging this time.