When the Indian football team takes the field against Qatar in the second round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers here on Tuesday, it will have to face the toughest challenge in Group A. The Indian team’s morale is high after defeating Kuwait 1-0 in the first match of the qualifiers. India will hope to give a tough fight to Qatar on home soil but the visiting team will start as favourites.
The Indian team had held Asian champions Qatar to a goalless draw four years ago and this will act as an inspiration for the team in this match. India surprised the football world by holding Doha, Qatar to a goalless draw in the second round qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup on September 10, 2019. Qatar were in tremendous form at that time and had won the Asia Cup title in early 2019. Charismatic Indian captain Sunil Chhetri did not take the field in that match due to ill health but he will be eager to showcase his skills at the Kalinga Stadium on Tuesday.
Even with Chhetri’s presence, it is unlikely that the Indian team will attack more than Qatar. Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh had led the team in that match against Qatar in 2019 and the onus will once again be on him to prevent Qatar from scoring at the Kalinga Stadium. Qatar, ranked 61st in the world rankings, defeated Afghanistan by a huge margin of 8-1 in their opening match on November 16 in Doha. The team will try to continue this momentum against India.
The biggest challenge for the Indian team will be to stop Qatar’s star striker Almoiz Ali, who scored four goals against Afghanistan. The Indian defense is already a bit weak in the absence of Anwar Ali. Apart from Ali, Indian coach Igor Stimac will not get the services of Jackson Singh in this important match. Ali got injured during Mohun Bagan’s AFC Cup match while Kerala Blasters player Jackson got injured in the Indian Super League match against Mumbai FC. In the middle line, Sahal Abdul Samad and Manvir Singh will be challenged to blunt the edge of Qatar’s front line and create chances for the Indian front line.
“We have analyzed Qatar from every player and field position and know very well what they are capable of in terms of pace and strength,” Indian coach Stimac said. It is difficult to break down his defensive and offensive game. He demonstrated this by scoring eight goals against Afghanistan.
He said, “It is going to be very difficult, Qatar is a strong contender to win this group. There are not many expectations from us in this match but we know that we have to grab our opportunity with both hands. He said, “We crossed the first hurdle against Kuwait and now I want the players to perform well against Qatar.” Showcase your skills.”
Apart from India and Qatar, there are teams from Kuwait and Afghanistan in Group A. The top two teams in the group will book their places at the 2027 AFC Asian Cup with the third round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The Indian team has not reached the third round of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers even once and its hopes have been raised after the team’s 1-0 win over Kuwait.
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