Tuesday , July 23 2024
World

FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers: India’s campaign ends after 2-1 defeat to Qatar

The Indian men’s football team was knocked out of the second round of the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers after a 2-1 loss to reigning Asian champions Qatar in its final Group A match at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Tuesday.

Lallianzuala Chhangte scored India’s only goal in the first half. The Indian football team finished third in Group A with just one win from six matches.

India finished third in Group A with just one win in six games and were unable to make it to the third round. Kuwait, who won 1-0 against Afghanistan on the final matchday, joined table-toppers Qatar to progress to the next round of the qualifiers.

World No. 34 Qatar came back from a goal down after Lallianzuala Chhangte (37’) scored the opening goal for India, 121st in the world football rankings. The hosts bounced back thanks to Yousef Aymen (73’) and Ahmed Al-Rawi (85’) in the second half.

Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, donning the captain’s armband, was called into action early on and had to make a strong save inside two minutes. The Qatar football team continued to make inroads and kept Gurpreet busy in the first 15 minutes.

India had a great chance just after the half-hour mark with Manvir Singh getting in a one-vs-one situation with the opposition keeper but failed to finish. The ball fell to Lallianzuala Chhangte who could not convert the opportunity either.

The visitors finally capitalised on their dominance and got on the scoresheet. Brandon Fernandes’ low cross from the flank was met by Chhangte, whose touch beat Qatari goalkeeper Shehab Ellethy and slid into the net.

The Qatar football team pushed for an equaliser strongly in the second half and Mehtab Singh had to make a crucial intervention just nine minutes after the restart.

The hosts restored parity with Yousef Aymen firing in the equaliser in the 73rd minute.

Igor Stimac’s side had a chance to restore their lead 10 minutes later with Jay Gupta and Liston Colaco coming close but the hosts managed to put the game to bed with another goal shortly after.

Ahmed Al-Rawi scored for the reigning Asian champions after a series of missed chances in the 83rd minute. India put up a fighting display in the closing minutes but could not get the equalizer.

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