A goalless draw against Qatar is a big 'confidence booster', and will come in handy for the rest of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualifying campaign, said Indian team assistant coach Shanmugam Venkatesh.
"What was important we opened our points tally. We took a point from the match which was very crucial for us," said the 40-year old former India captain.
On Tuesday, India, ranked 103rd in the world kept 62nd-ranked Qatar away from scoring for the full 90 minutes of play thus opening their points tally in Group E.
Qatar leads the group with four points from two matches followed by Oman who have three points from one match. Afghanistan also have three points from two matches. Bangladesh is the other team in the group who are yet to open their points account.
Venkatesh, who also served as a deputy to outgoing coach Stephen Constantine, said it is time to increase the points tally in the coming matches.
"We need to build on the one point we have picked up here from Qatar. The boys gave their best on Tuesday. It now to buil on the start we have got," said Venkatesh, who played for top I-league clubs in India before calling time on his international career in 2014.
With Tuesday's draw, India became only the fourth nation in 2019 to keep a clean slate against Asian champions Qatar and the Indian players credited coach Igor Stimac for the "positive vibes' in the dressing room which made a 'great difference.'
"The coach did a lot of research on the opponents and gave us a lot of short videos to watch, and prepare. We watched them perhaps a million times," Indian defender Mandar Rao Dessai said.
"At every step, he was there to guide us. After the Oman result, it was not easy to play against Qatar. However, coach motivated us all the time. He brought in a lot of positivity which was so crucial as everyone was low on morale," Dessai said.
"That's what good coaches are capable of - lifting up the spirits with their belief, and confidence," he added.
Stimac who coached Croatia at the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil, took charge of the Blue Tigers in May 2019. During his playing days, he was part of the golden generation of Croatian squad which finished third in the FIFA World Cup 1998.
Central defender Adil Khan, who led by example couldn't hide his emotions while looking back at the match.
"Playing a team as strong as Qatar who have won all their matches against Asian sides in 2019, and not conceding a goal is special. The credit for the result goes to the entire team."