Qatar’s Controversial Goal Knocks India Out of FIFA World Cup Qualification Hunt

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India Vs Qatar

India gave it their all but unfortunately fell short against Qatar in the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers, ending their journey with a 1-2 loss to Qatar. It was a tough match, but India played with determination and spirit. India’s hopes in the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers were dashed as they exited the tournament following a 1-2 defeat against Qatar in the final Group A clash at Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha. 

India’s dream of qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup came to an end with a 1-2 loss to Qatar at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha on Tuesday night. The match took a turn when a controversial goal by Youssef Aymen equalized the score after India had initially taken the lead and successfully defended against Qatar. Lallianzuala Chhangte put India ahead in the first half following a fortunate rebound from Brandon Fernandes’s shot. However, goals from Aymen and Ahmed Al-Rawi secured the victory for Qatar, who comfortably topped the group.

India faced a shaky start to the game and narrowly avoided falling behind within the first five minutes when Mehtab Singh made a remarkable goal-line block to deny a shot from Al-Rawi.

India seized the lead in the 37th minute, well-deserved reward for their earlier opportunities created by Manvir Singh and Chhangte.

In the second half, Qatar introduced experienced players Homam Ahmed and Khaled Ali, altering the game’s momentum in favor of the hosts.

The equalizer came in a controversial and somewhat comical manner. A Qatari free-kick was inadvertently headed towards his own goal by Mehtab, and despite going out of play via Gurpreet, the referees missed it. Mohialdin Alhashmi retrieved the ball from behind the line after it had already gone out, then passed it back for Aymen, giving Qatar a glimmer of hope.

The eventual winning goal left no room for doubt. Qatar orchestrated a smooth build-up through Tameem Mansour, leading to a perfect setup for Al-Rawi at the edge of the box. His precise side-footed curler found the bottom corner past Gurpreet’s desperate dive, securing Qatar’s victory.

In the second half, India had a few opportunities, with Jay Gupta notably missing a chance after being played through one-on-one by a long pass from Gurpreet. Unfortunately, his shot went straight at Qatari goalkeeper Ali Nader. Other chances created by Sahal Abdul Samad’s creativity didn’t result in shots on goal for India.

Even if India had managed to secure a draw, it wouldn’t have been sufficient for them to qualify, as Kuwait emerged victorious with a 1-0 win over Afghanistan, securing the second spot in the group behind Qatar. India ultimately finished third, narrowly ahead of Afghanistan based on goal difference.

The journey that started with great optimism after an impressive away victory in Kuwait has sadly concluded in a disappointing manner, with only two points gained from the subsequent five games. While the controversial refereeing decision that led to the Qatari equalizer will be heavily debated, India also had their chances during this campaign that they failed to capitalize on, notably in the matches against Afghanistan where they only managed to secure one point.