Doha, September 10
In what can be termed as the team’s most significant result in recent times, a resolute India held Asian champions Qatar to a goalless draw at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in their second Group E match of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Head Coach Igor Stimac made four changes to the starting line-up which started against Oman in the first match but the biggest setback was the absence of talismanic striker Sunil Chhetri, who wasn’t able to recover in time from a viral infection. He had to watch the game from the stands.
For the most part of the first half, the Indians were happy defending, preferring to play the waiting game and only counterattacking. And even as the Asian champions came out all guns blazing and created a host of opportunities in bid to get their noises ahead, captain Gurpreet Singh Sandhu stood tall in his goal defying and frustrating Qatar on many occasions.
Twice in the first 10 minutes, Sandhu denied his rival counterpart Hassan Al Heidos, thus growing in confidence. In fact, the entire defence weren’t willing to give away an inch. Sandhu made some scintillating saves, including one to deny Almoez Ali in the dying minutes of the first half, as both teams headed to the interval locked goalless.
On resumption, the Blue Tigers opened up waiting to catch Qatar on the back foot with their counterattacks. In the 51st minute, Udanta Singh received a pass from Sahal, outpaced Quatar’s Abdelkarim Hasan and tried to find Manvir Singh, but the move didn’t materialise as it was a bit too long for him.
Six minutes later, Sahal breached the host’s midfield once again but Assim Madibo’s harsh challenge on him ended up inviting a booking for the rival player. — Agencies
Anthem booed as Hong Kong slump to Iran
Hong Kong: Hong Kong fans booed their own national anthem and sang in protest against Beijing’s rule as months of political unrest spilled onto the football pitch in a 2-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to Iran today. Ear-splitting booing all but drowned out “March of the Volunteers”, the anthem the semi-autonomous territory shares with mainland China, at what was Hong Kong’s first home game after a summer of upheaval. Fans also sang a newly composed protest song, “Glory to Hong Kong”, repeatedly chanted “Liberate Hong Kong” and waved a black version of the territory’s Bauhinia flag, a symbol of the protests that have gripped the city for 14 weeks. The sometimes violent protests were triggered by alarm over a controversial bill, since scrapped, to allow extraditions to mainland China. “I think football is the most peaceful way to express our demands,” Christopher Chung, a 22-year-old fan, said. AFP
Iranian fan who set herself on fire dies
Tehran: A female Iranian football supporter, who set herself on fire a week ago, has passed away. According to a BBC report, the girl was a fan of Esteqlal team here and was referred to as Sahar which is not her given name. The woman set herself alight after her trial, for trying to sneak into a stadium disguised as a man, was pushed to a later date. She was arrested in March, according to the report. After being released on bail post her three-day jail period, the woman was waiting for her court case for six months. But her hearing was postponed due to the judge’s family emergency. She went back to the court room to pick up her phone when, as per the BBC report, it is believed that she might have overheard someone saying that if she were convicted she could get six months to two years in jail. She then set herself alight in front of the court house and later died. ians
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