Indian Football Team head coach Igor Stimac hailed the effort of the players despite his side suffering a narrow 2-1 defeat against Qatar in their final match of the second round of the FIFA World Cup and AFC Asian Cup Joint Qualifiers at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Ar-Rayyan on Tuesday.

The Blue Tigers broke the deadlock with Lallianzuala Chhangte's clinical finish inside the box. An open-play move from the left flank saw Brandon Fernandes find Chhangte from a tight angle, which the latter buried into the net to provide the lead in the game.

However, Stimac's men failed to capitalize on the advantage as they conceded two goals late in the second half, dashing their hopes of qualifying for the third round.

The two-time Asian champions levelled the scoreline with Yousef Aymen in the 73rd minute, while Ahmed Al-Rawi scored the winner in the dying minutes, seizing victory for the Maroons.

Despite the loss, the Croatian head coach expressed his satisfaction with the way his players approached the game, giving it their all and fighting till the end.

"I would say that there is nothing to complain about my boys' display. They were fantastic," Stimac said in the post-match press conference.

"All Indian fans can be proud of their team. We controlled the game for a major part, with a high press against a good Qatari team. You could say that the chances India had were better than Qatar's," he added.

After withstanding the initial pressure from the home side, the Blue Tigers made some offensive moves through counterattacks. Besides Chhangte's goal, India had a couple more opportunities with Manvir Singh and Rahim Ali, but they couldn't capitalize on those chances. Otherwise, India could have secured a significant lead within the first 45 minutes.

Speaking in context, the head coach remarked, "We should have scored thrice in the first half to kill the game, definitely."

"But there is something which is missing in Indian football, and that's clinical reactions inside the box," he added.

Qatar head coach Tintin Marquez fielded a young squad against Afghanistan and India, having already secured qualification for the next round after four matches.

The Blue Tigers defended well for most of the match, but the equalizing goal completely shifted the momentum towards the home side. A victory would have meant India making history by securing qualification for the third round for the very first time.

Stimac praised the performance of the young players on both sides, who showed promise for the future.

"It's kind of an injustice to my boys tonight because we were very close to winning this game and qualifying for the third round, but it didn't happen," he commented.

"Congratulations to Qatar. I would say that both countries can be proud of their futures because all the players showed enormous quality today. They played open football, and it was obvious that both teams enjoyed the game. Many people will say that Qatar played with their reserve team. But our team is also not too old compared to Qatar," Stimac signed off.