We are all eager to see Indian Football Team back in action after almost 65 days. After a 6-0 loss to UAE, fans expect a comeback performance against Qatar, the best team in Asia. When Blue Tigers last played Qatar in 2019, they made history by becoming only the 4th team after mighty Brazil, Argentina and Columbia to keep a clean sheet. Look out for these five key battles in the fixture of India vs Qatar
5. Sunil Chhetri vs Boulem Khouki
It will be an exciting battle between Indian Center-Forward Sunil Chhetri and Qatari Center-Back Boualem Khouki.
Sunil Chhetri will be hungrier than ever to get back into the national camp and play against the best team in Asia as he missed out on two friendlies last time due to testing positive for COVID-19. Though Bengaluru FC and Sunil Chhetri haven’t had the best of times this season in the Indian Super League, Sunil Chhetri became the highest Indian Goal scorer by scoring seven goals.
As Sir Alex Ferguson once said, “Attack wins you matches, Defence wins you titles” Boualem Khouki was influential in Xavi’s Al-Sadd’s title-winning campaign in Qatar Stars League. The Qatari Center-Back contributed in Defence and contributed in Attack by scoring two goals and providing one assist. In the FIFA world cup qualifiers, he scored one goal in 6 games. It would be interesting to see the face-off of Sunil Chhetri and Boualem Khouki.
4. Amrinder Singh vs Almoez Ali
It will be interesting to watch the battle between Amrinder Singh and Almoez Ali. Amrinder Singh has a better chance of featuring in the Qatar game following his fabulous performance in ISL. Playing for Mumbai City FC, he kept nine clean sheets in 20 games with a few spectacular saves. As the Captain of Mumbai City FC, he helped his team win both ISL League Shield and ISL Trophy.
On the other side, Qatari forward Almoez Ali fueled up Al-Duhail’s Attack in every competition by scoring six goals and providing five assists in 20 games in Qatar Stars League. In this season’s AFC Champions League campaign, he provided three assists in 6 games, and In 2 games in the FIFA club world cup, he scored one goal. In FIFA World Cup qualifiers for Qatar, he scored six goals in 6 games. Amrinder Singh will have a difficult task to stop thunderbolt strikes from Almoez Ali.
3. Sandesh Jhingan vs Al Haydos
It will be a battle between India’s Ministry of Defence and Qatar’s ministry of Attack. It’s a war between the best Indian defender versus the most experienced Qatari attacker. Sandesh Jhingan was part of one of the league’s best Defence, which kept ten clean sheets in 20 games. Both ATKMB and Sandesh Jhingan were one step away from winning both the ISL league shield and ISL trophy.
Whereas Al Haydos, who plays for Xavi’s Al Sadd, is the highest capped player for Qatar with a record of 153 caps and played for Al Sadd from the age of 8 and started playing for the main team when he attained the age of 17 years. He was influential in creating chances for Al Sadd this season. In Qatar Stars League, he scored two goals and gave nine assists and In AFC Champions League this season, he has a goal and an assist to his name. In the FIFA Club World Cup, he scored one goal and assisted 3 in 3 games. Sandesh Jhinghan and other Indians in Defence will have an uphill task to stop Qatar’s Attack ministry.
2. Pritam Kotal vs Akram Afif
This will be a battle between a wingback who was one step away from winning both league shield and league trophy and a winger who is now a part of a team that has won the league 15 times. It will be one of the classical battles in football in terms of position – a battle between a left-winger and a right back. Its Akram Afif vs Pritam Kotal. Pritam Kotal was part of the best defence in the ISL, which kept ten clean sheets out of 20 games.
In contrast, Akram Afif was a part of the team which played the most attractive football in Qatar. Stats speak for themselves on the contribution of Akram Afif in the attacking force for Al Sadd. He scored five goals and gave seven assists in 11 games in the Qatar Stars League. In this year’s AFC Champions League, he played two games and has a goal and assist his name. Even in World cup qualifiers, he played five games and scored four goals. Pritam Kotal will have a massive responsibility on his shoulders to stop Akram Afif from scoring goals and creating chances.
1. Brandon Fernandez vs Abdulaziz Hatem
Now it’s time to see the battle in the heart of a football field. In midfield, there will be an exciting battle between FC Goa’s attacking midfielder Brandon and Al Rayyan’s Defensive Midfielder, Abdulaziz Hatem. Both Brandon and Abdulaziz had faced each other before in the AFC Champions League group stage this season. Brandon got better off Abdulaziz in one game, which resulted in Jorge Ortiz Mendoza and Brandon getting an assist to his name. For most of this season, Brandon was injured, and he played just 12 games in ISL, most of which he didn’t play the entire 90 mins, but still managed to bag three assists to his name. Even in World cup qualifiers, he’s the only player to give assists.
As a defensive midfielder, Abdulaziz helped his team in defence and scored five goals and provided three assists in Qatar Stars League. In AFC Champions League, he has a goal and an assist to his name. He scored a solitary goal for Qatar in this year’s world cup qualifiers. It would be interesting to see the faceoff between Brandon and Abdulaziz once again in Worldcup qualifiers after their tussle in the Champions League.
Follow our website for all the latest updates on Indian Football