FIFA World Cup Qualifications: India's best results in the qualifiers
As the Blue Tigers prepare for the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifications, let's review some of India's notable results in the qualifiers.
The rise of Indian football has been gradual yet consistent. The journey for the Blue Tigers in World Cup Qualifying matches has been challenging thus far. The Indian Men's Football Team experienced their first taste of World Cup Qualifying matches in 1985 for the 1986 FIFA World Cup. Their debut match in the qualifying round resulted in a 2-1 loss against Indonesia.
They skipped the 1990 World Cup Qualifiers but returned for the 1994 edition. So far, India has played 48 World Cup qualifiers and won 10 games. Their most successful campaign was the 2002 World Cup Qualifiers, where the Blue Tigers earned 11 points in six games.
While World Cup qualification remains a distant goal, the performances of the Indian Football Team consistently ignite hopes for a brighter future. With that in mind, let us take a look at some of India's best results in the World Cup qualifiers.
India 2-0 Philippines - FIFA World Cup Qualifiers 1998
India defeated the Philippines 2-0 in the 1998 World Cup Qualifiers in a tightly contested match. Goals from Raman Vijayan and Bruno Coutinho ensured that India secured a famous victory against a strong Philippines team. In the group stage, India finished third with four points, behind Qatar and Sri Lanka.
India 1-0 UAE - FIFA World Cup Qualifiers 2002
India secured a famous victory at home against the UAE in the 2002 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers match. In a tightly contested game, a 71st-minute set-piece goal by Jules Alberto proved decisive, helping India overcome the strongest team in their group. The 2002 World Cup Qualifying campaign proved to be one of India's best, as they finished third in the group standings, tied with Yemen in second place with 11 points.
India 5-0 Brunei - FIFA World Cup Qualifiers 2002
Under the coaching of Sukhwinder Singh, India comfortably defeated Brunei 5-0 in the 2002 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. The Blue Tigers showcased their attacking prowess, with goals contributed by Alberto, I M Vijayan, Baichung Bhutia, Jo Paul Ancheri, and Hakim Abdul. This resounding victory marked India's largest margin of success in a World Cup qualifiers match.
India 1-0 Singapore - FIFA World Cup Qualifiers 2006
India impressively began their 2006 World Cup qualification, securing a 1-0 victory against Singapore in a match hosted at the Fatorda Stadium in Goa. The winning goal came from Renedy Singh. Under the management of Stephen Constantine, the team displayed tenacity and grit to secure three crucial points, marking a positive start to the 2006 World Cup Qualifying campaign.
Qatar 0-0 India - FIFA World Cup Qualifiers 2022
India earned a commendable draw against AFC Cup 2019 Champions Qatar in the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers, in a match hosted at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha. The newly appointed national team coach, Igor Stimac, faced a challenging encounter as Qatar, in stellar form, dominated the game from the first whistle.
You shall not pass 🧙♂️— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) June 3, 2021
Let's relive some of those glorious saves by @GurpreetGK, the last time #BlueTigers 🐯 played Qatar 🤩#INDQAT ⚔️ #WCQ 🏆 #BackTheBlue 💙 #IndianFootball ⚽ pic.twitter.com/yWDCbaGOqE
Despite relentless waves of Qatari attacks, India's defence, marshalled by goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and defenders Sandesh Jhingan and Adil Khan, held steadfast. The back four showcased exceptional teamwork, thwarting every Qatari chance that came their way. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu's unwavering performance in goal played a pivotal role in preserving a clean sheet.
Despite the Blue Tigers having their fair share of opportunities, they couldn't convert them, and the match ultimately ended in a hard-fought 0-0 stalemate.
Kuwait 0-1 India - FIFA World Cup Qualifiers 2026
India kicked off their 2026 World Cup Qualifiers on a positive note, narrowly securing a 1-0 victory against a formidable Kuwait side at the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium in Al Ardiya, Kuwait. The Blue Tigers demonstrated a robust start to the game, successfully thwarting Kuwait's fast-paced attacks throughout the entire first half.
India maintained defensive solidity in the initial half and, during the second half, fortified their defensive stance while increasing their presence in the attacking third.
In the 75th minute of the match, a rapid counter-attacking run by substitute Lallianzuala Chhangte resulted in the creation of a goal-scoring opportunity for forward Manvir Singh, who seized the chance to secure the lead for the Blue Tigers. His goal stood as the solitary score of the game, earning India all three points after 90 minutes.