Indian Men's Football Team's World Cup Aspirations End with Loss to Qatar's Second-String Team

Indian Men's Football Team's World Cup Aspirations End with Loss to Qatar's Second-String Team By Sruthi Nair - June 12, 2024
Qatars Youssef Ayman celebrates with Ibrahim Al Hassan after the match against India

Qatar's Youssef Ayman celebrates with Ibrahim Al Hassan after the match against India

Yesterday, a young Qatar side rallied to edge India 2-1, concluding their second-round campaign in the Asian Cup 2027 and FIFA World Cup 2026 joint qualifiers on a high note.

India's defeat dashed their hopes of advancing in the World Cup qualifiers, while Kuwait secured their spot in the third round with a 1-0 home victory over Afghanistan, finishing as runners-up in Group A with seven points. Qatar topped the group with 16 points from five wins and a draw, while India and Afghanistan ended their campaigns with five points each.

At the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, Igor Stimac’s India appeared poised to claim three crucial points after Lallianzuala Chhangte's 37th-minute goal. However, Qatar mounted a strong second-half comeback. Youssef Ayman equalized in the 73rd minute, and Ahmed Al Rawi's 85th-minute shot from outside the box sealed the victory, much to the delight of coach Marquez Lopez, who again fielded a youthful team.

"We performed well in the second half to win the match. We aimed for a win against India and I am pleased we achieved it, finishing the stage without a loss, which we deserved," said the Qatar coach.

"The team benefited greatly from the last two matches, including the game against Afghanistan, as we tested youngsters who will join us in the third round of World Cup qualifiers," he added.

The hosts started brightly, with Hashmi Al Hussain giving India a scare in the second minute from Hazem Shehata’s corner kick, but goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu was well-positioned to block the attempt.

Lopez’s side had three shots on target in the first quarter, with Al Rayyan forward Al Rawi creating several chances but failing to execute properly. Rahim Ali missed India’s rare attempt in the 25th minute, but from then on, Stimac’s men looked stronger, making several attempts. Manvir Singh saw goalkeeper Shehab Ellethy block his right-footed shot in the bottom right corner.

Chhangte put India ahead with a diving touch, connecting a cross into the bottom left corner, beating Ellethy. Qatar responded with Al Rawi firing a shot from outside the box, but Sandhu denied him again, allowing India to hold the advantage at halftime.

Lopez introduced fresh legs after the break, with Ellethy replaced by Ali Nader, Homam Ahmed coming on for Hazem, and Khaled Ali replacing Ahmed Al Ganehi.

Al Rawi continued to pressure India’s defense, with a defender blocking his goal-bound shot in the 54th minute following an assist from Khaled. Ayman brought Qatar back into the match, tapping the ball in from close range after Sandhu failed to control his initial header attempt from Al Hussain’s free kick.

Referee Woo-Sung Kim dismissed Sandhu’s appeal, which suggested Al Hussain pulled the ball back after it crossed the goal-line. With five minutes remaining, Al Rawi finally scored, slotting the winner into the right corner with a low hit from outside the box, as Qatar ended their second-round campaign on a high note.

Stimac expressed his frustration over the absence of VAR, questioning the legitimacy of Qatar’s first goal. "We wish video technology was available to confirm the authenticity of the equalizer," the India coach said. "I’m not blaming it all on FIFA – I’m just saying things like this shouldn’t happen. If it happened to Qatar, I would also speak about it. It is an injustice to my boys tonight."

Meanwhile, at Sabah Al Salem Stadium, Eid Al Rashedi's 81st-minute goal secured Kuwait’s victory, also ensuring their place in the next Asian Cup.


Source: The Peninsula Qatar

By Sruthi Nair - June 12, 2024
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