FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: India go down to Qatar
The Blue Tigers were handed their first defeat of their FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifying campaign as they suffered a 3-0 defeat to Qatar in Bhubaneswar.
The Indian football team suffered a disappointing 3-0 defeat to Qatar in their second-round fixture of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, on Tuesday.
Moustafa Mashal, Almeoz Ali and Yousef Abdurisag were the goalscorers for Qatar, helping them secure back-to-back wins in the World Cup Qualifiers.
Qatar set the tone early, dominating the Indian defence and grabbing the lead in the 4th minute with Moustafa Mashal's well-placed right-footed shot into the bottom corner.
Lallianzuala Chhangte showcased an impressive performance, leading the team into the opponent's box and creating chances with his vision and passing. In the 12th minute, Chhangte's efforts forced Qatari defender Boualem Khoukhi into a strong clearance, thwarting India's attack from the right.
Despite moments of promise, a coordinated attack in the 35th minute, led by Anirudh Thapa and Udanta Singh, found an unmarked Apuia at the box's edge, but the shot went over the bar.
Captain Sunil Chhetri, lacking frontline support, pressed the Qatari defence single-handedly, creating opportunities, including a missed chance by Thapa in the 42nd minute.
India goalkeeper Amrinder Singh made numerous crucial saves, with defenders Sandesh Jhingan and Rahul Bheke providing support in the first half, ending 1-0.
The second half mirrored India's earlier mistake, conceding in the 47th minute as Almoez Ali doubled Qatar's lead from close range.
Qatar's Akram Afif remained a constant threat, and despite Sahal Abdul Samad's introduction in the 63rd minute, India struggled to find the net.
Despite creating several chances, India couldn't convert, and in the 85th minute, Yusuf Abdurisag sealed Qatar's victory with a header as Bheke failed to mark him properly.
Despite the Blue Tigers' commendable effort, they couldn't match Qatar's quality and intensity, handing them their first defeat of their World Cup qualifying campaign.