The Indian national team scored a rare 2-1 away win against a superior opponent by beating Qatar 2-1 at the Al Sadd Stadium, Doha. Sunil Chhetri had put India ahead through a first half penalty with substitute Sushil Kumar Singh doubling the lead after the break with Qatar reducing the deficit only a minute later through a Khalfan Ibrahim Khalfan goal.
It was India's biggest win in over 10 years as Qatar are currently ranked 94th in the FIFA world rankings, while India are 53 places behind them in 147th. On the day India made only one change to the team which faced the Maldives a week ago. Youngster Lalrindika Ralte replaced an injured Steven Benedic Dias on the right wing as Subrata Pal led his team onto the field.
It was an open game initially with Sunil Chhetri having the first chance of the match, but it remained goalless after the first quarter. India got a penalty in the 16th minute as Debabrata Roy was brought down in the Qatari box. Sunil Chhetri walked up to take the penalty and he made no mistake as he gave India the lead.
At the break both coaches made numerous changes, Armando actually made 10 substitutions changing all players except goalkeeper and captain Subrata Pal, while Qatar brought on their star players like Sebastian Soria who had not played in the first session. And it was mainly Qatar in the second session as India was mostly under pressure with Subrata having to make numerous great saves.
India weren't good on the counter, but one counter-attack worked in the 73rd minute and gave Team India a 2-0 lead. A cross from Harmanjot Singh Khabra was collected by Baljit Singh Sahni for Sushil Kumar Singh and the Manipuri would go on to score. Only a minute later Qatar reduced the deficit through Khalfan Ibrahim Khalfan, but India would hold on to a historic away win as the Indians in the crowd celebrated.
Armando Colaco wasn't willing to go overboard despite the victory. "We are improving day by day. That's important. The boys showed they are adopting fast to the new style," he said. "The game is all about ball possession and once we have the ball, we shouldn't give it away easily," Armando added.
But as happy as I am about this win, it only counts if we are able to get a positive result against the United Arab Emirates in the 2014 FIFA World Cup - Asian Round 2 home-and-away tie on July 23 and 28.
And Armando understand that fact as he said, "The World Cup Qualifier against UAE is our acid test. It's a tough mountain to climb. Hence, we needed to get the combination right."
Qatar 1-2 (0-1) INDIA - Goals: 0-1 Sunil Chhetri (16' penalty), 0-2 Sushil Kumar Singh (73'), 1-2 Khalfan Ibrahim Khalfan (74')
INDIA: 1-Subrata Pal [C]; 16-Samir Naik (46' ??-Valeriano Rebello), 19-Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh (46' 14-Mahesh Gawli), 3-Raju Eknath Gaekwad (46' ??-Rowilson Rodrigues), 2-Debabrata Roy (46' 17-Robert Lalthlamuana); 20-Lalrindika Ralte (46' 28-Peter Carvalho), 8-Climax Lawrence (46' 5-Harmanjot Singh Khabra), 30-Mehtab Hussain (46' 25-Jewel Sheikh Raja), 22-Syed Rahim Nabi (46' ??-Clifford Miranda); 10-Jeje Lalpekhlua (46' 6-Baljit Singh Sahni), 11-Sunil Chhetri (46' 18-Sushil Kumar Singh)