India vs Qatar Highlights: FIFA World Cup Qualification After Controversial Defeat to Qatar

FIFA World Cup Qualification

India’s hopes of qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup were dashed following a 2-1 defeat to Qatar at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Tuesday evening. The match turned on a controversial Qatari equaliser scored by Youssef Aymen, which changed the game’s dynamics after India had initially taken the lead.

Lallianzuala Chhangte put India ahead in the first half, capitalizing on a mishit shot from Brandon Fernandes that fell perfectly into his path. This marked India’s first goal from open play in 682 minutes. Despite holding Qatar at bay for a significant period, subsequent goals from Aymen and Ahmed Al-Rawi ensured Qatar’s victory and solidified their position at the top of the group.

The game didn’t start favorably for India, as they almost conceded within the first five minutes. Mehtab Singh made a crucial goal-line block to deny Al-Rawi. India gradually found their rhythm and deservedly took the lead in the 37th minute after creating several chances, particularly through Manvir Singh and Chhangte.

The second half saw Qatar introducing experienced players Homam Ahmed and Khaled Ali, who shifted the momentum in favor of the hosts. The equalizer, however, came under controversial circumstances. A Qatari free-kick saw Mehtab inadvertently head the ball towards his own goal, which was then deflected by Indian goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu. Despite the ball appearing to have gone out of play, the referees did not notice. Qatari player Mohialdin Alhashmi retrieved the ball from behind the line and set up Aymen to score.

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Qatar’s winning goal was more straightforward. A well-constructed move ended with Al-Rawi curling a shot from the edge of the box into the bottom corner, leaving Gurpreet with no chance.

India had opportunities to salvage the game, with Jay Gupta missing a crucial one-on-one chance, shooting directly at Qatari goalkeeper Ali Nader. Other potential chances fizzled out without India managing a shot on goal, despite creative efforts from Sahal Abdul Samad.

Even a draw would not have sufficed for India, as Kuwait secured a 1-0 victory over Afghanistan to claim the second spot in the group. India finished third, only ahead of Afghanistan on goal difference.

India’s campaign, which began with high hopes following an away win against Kuwait, ended disappointingly with just two points from the remaining five matches. While the controversial refereeing decision regarding Qatar’s equaliser will be remembered, India’s overall performance and missed opportunities, especially in the matches against Afghanistan, were crucial in their failure to qualify.

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