FIFA WC Qualifiers: India lose out on qualification dreams with controversial 2-1 loss against Qatar

Doha, June 11 Indian football fans were again left seething in frustration as the side fell against Asian Champions Qatar despite taking the lead in the first half. The scoreline ended 2-1 in favour of the home side at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in a game surrounded by controversy.

In their first game without former skipper Sunil Chhetri, Gurpreet Sandhu started the game with the captain’s armband and came agonizingly close to leading the team to their first-ever trip to the third round of the FIFA WC Qualifiers. The loss also means that India will not receive automatic qualification to the AFC Asian Cup 2027.

Qatar started the game on the front foot and almost took the lead through a well-worked corner which was saved by the vigilant skipper in goal. Mahtab Singh rescued the side in the opening minutes as Qatari forward Alrawi was in an excellent position to score but a brilliant block by the defender led to a goal-line clearance.

Despite a rocky start India grew into the game and came close to scoring on multiple occasions with Manvir Singh, Rahim Ali, and Lallianzuala Chhangte coming close to opening the scoring. The breakthrough came in the 37th minute through a brilliant pass by Brandon Fernandes who found Chhangte inside the box which the 27-year-old slotted into the back of the net.

Controversy broke out during the 75th minute as Yousef Aymen scored a goal despite the ball having clearly rolled out of the pitch in the build-up. The Indian players and captain Sandhu all pleaded with the referee, but the absence of VAR led to the goal standing which meant the game remained tied. All hopes ended for India as the side lost all momentum and ended up conceding the second goal in the 85th minute through a brilliant finish by Alrawi from outside the box.

Kuwait won their fixture against Afghanistan (1-0), securing their progress to the next round. It was a brilliant turnaround by the side that started the day from the bottom of the table.

It is back to the drawing board for India who will have to take the result with a pinch of salt. A new era of the sport awaits the team, one without Sunil Chhetri and hopefully one with more moments to celebrate.

Source: IANS
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