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Qatar 2-1 India: Hosts end Blue Tigers' World Cup hope in controversial fashion

  /  R47

India are out of contention to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup after a 2-1 defeat to Qatar at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Tuesday evening. A controversial Qatari equaliser - scored by Youssef Aymen - turned the game on its head after India had taken the lead, and had held Qatar at bay after that.

2026 World Cup qualification Asia


Match Report

Lallianzuala Chhangte gave India the lead in the first half after Brandon Fernandes's mishit shot fell nicely into his path for him to slot into the net for India's first goal from open play in 682 minutes. But then goals from Aymen and Ahmed Al-Rawi gave Qatar the win, as they finished comfortably top of the group.

India didn't start the game well, and should've gone down in the first five minutes, when Mehtab Singh popped up with a stunning goal-line block to stop a shot from Al-Rawi.

India took the lead in the 37th minute, and it was well deserved, after they had chances through Manvir Singh and Chhangte himself.

In the second half, Qatar brought on a couple of senior players - Homam Ahmed and Khaled Ali - who changed the momentum of the game in the hosts' favour.

But the equaliser eventually arrived in controversial and rather farcical circumstances. A Qatari free-kick was headed towards his own goal by Mehtab, and via Gurpreet, it went out of play. But the referees didn't spot that. Mohialdin Alhashmi took the ball from behind the line after it had gone out of play, and then flicked it back for Aymen, who gave Qatar hope.

The eventual winner had absolutely no doubt attached to it though. Qatar built nicely through Tameem Mansour, and then it fell nicely to Al-Rawi on the edge of the box, and his side-footed curler settled perfectly in the bottom corner past a despairing dive from Gurpreet.

India had a couple of chances in the second half, most notably through Jay Gupta, after he was played through one-on-one by a long Gurpreet pass. He shot straight at Qatari goalkeeper Ali Nader, while the other chances ended up with India not even having shots on goal, following great creative work from Sahal Abdul Samad.

Eventually, even a draw wouldn't have been enough for India to qualify, as Kuwait beat Afghanistan 1-0, to take second spot in the group behind Qatar. India finished third, ahead of Afghanistan only on goal difference.

A campaign that began with so much hope with an away win in Kuwait has now ended in ignominious fashion with just two points in the remaining five games. The refereeing decision to award the Qatari equaliser will take centre-stage, but India had their own opportunities throughout this campaign that they threw away - particularly those two games against Afghanistan, which they took just one point off.


Qatar XI: Abdullah Al-Ahrak, Hazem Ahmed, Shehab Ellethy, Yousef Aymen, Ahmed Al-Ganehi, Naif Al-Hadhrami, Ahmed Al-Rawi, Nabil Erfan, Al-Hashmi Al-Hussain, Ibrahim Al-Hassan, Mohamed Khaled Gouda

Subs: Homam Al-Amin, Mohamed Emad Aiash, Khalid Ali Sabah, Ali Nader Mahmoud, Tameem Mansour, Abdalla Yousif, Abdullah Badr Al-Yazidi, Mahdi Al-Mejaba, Amir Hassan, Fares Said, Yousef Marei, Tahsin Mohammed Jamshid

India XI: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Rahul Bheke, Brandon Fernandes, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Mehtab Singh, Manvir Singh, Anwar Ali, Jeakson Singh, Suresh Singh, Rahim Ali, Jay Gupta

Subs: Amrinder Singh, Vishal Kaith, Anirudh Thapa, Nikhil Poojary, Nandha Kumar Sekar, Liston Colaco, Edmund Lalrindika, Narender Gahlot, Sahal Abdul Samad, Vikram Partap Singh, Naorem Mahesh Singh, David Lalhlansanga