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Qatar vs India: Gurpreet Sandhu named captain after Sunil Chhetri’s retirement for FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifier

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Bengaluru FC goalkeeper and one of the veterans of the Indian football team, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, was named the captain after Sunil Chhetri’s retirement, for the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Qatar on June 11.

The FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup 2027 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 match will be played at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium on Tuesday, June 11, 2024, at 21:15 IST.

Head coach Igor Stimac had named a 23-member squad to travel for the fixture. Apart from captain Sunil Chhetri, who retired after his last game for the country against Kuwait on Thursday, defenders Amey Ranawade, Lalchungnunga and Subhasish Bose did not travel to Qatar. Bose was released on his request because of personal reasons.

Stimac mentioned that it was a no-brainer to hand it to Gurpreet. With 71 caps, the 32-year-old is now the most experienced and longest-serving player in the national team after Chhetri’s departure.

“Gurpreet was one of our captains alongside Sunil and Sandesh (Jhingan) for the past five years, so naturally he is the one to take responsibility at this moment,” said Stimac.

India’s next opponent, Qatar, which has already qualified for the third round as group-topper, has named a largely youthful squad, with 21 out of its 29 players below the age of 24. The two-time Asian champion was held goalless by Afghanistan in Hofuf, Saudi Arabia, on Thursday.

“⁠We have watched the Afghanistan versus Qatar game and will work on the attacking transition in the next two days, with a hope to start scoring goals from the chances we create,” said Stimac.

India will have its first practice in Doha on Sunday evening before the official training session on Monday at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium, the match venue.

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