2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: Three talking points from India’s loss to Qatar
The defeat ended India’s 15 games unbeaten run at home.
India’s fine run of form at home comes to an end as Qatar hand them a reality check with a 0-3 defeat at 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers game in Bhubaneswar. The visitors were certainly the better side on the night and deserved to win the game.
Qatar’s quality was undoubtedly too much for India to match. Moustafa Tarek Mashal opened the scoring with an early goal before Almoez Ali doubled with a quick second half goal. Yusuf Abdurisag came off the bench and sealed the deal for his side with a third goal.
On that note, let us take a look at the talking points from India’s heavy defeat to Qatar.
India’s 15 game unbeaten run at home comes to an end
The Blue Tigers were torn to shreds by the defending Asian Champions and were handed a shambolic 0-3 defeat in front of a jam packed Kalinga Stadium. And not just that, Qatar have also brought an end to India’s remarkable 15 game unbeaten run at home.
It is also India’s first defeat at home since 2019 where they lost against Oman in Guwahati. Although the game will certainly serve the players with crucial learnings ahead of their 2024 AFC Asian Cup campaign, Igor Stimac and company need to take necessary measures moving forward.
Unexpected changes in the starting line-up
India’s head coach Igor Stimac made a few surprising changes to his lineup against the visitors. While Manvir Singh’s absence was understandable, Gurpeet Singh Sandhu’s exclusion did raise a lot of eye brows.
Igor Stimac’s unconventional changes to a pretty settled line-up did harm the Blue Tigers on the pitch. Amrinder Singh came in to replace an inform Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to play his first ever FIFA World Cup qualifier and did not quite live up to the expectations. Moreover, the exclusion of Sahal Abdul Samad and Akash Mishra also looked like an unwanted decision.
India’s lack of finishing
India were too apprehensive throughout the game against the defending Asian Champions. As expected India were not awarded with many chances by Qatar to attack and score a goal. But, the Blue Tigers failed to capitalise on their limited opportunities.
Anirudh Thapa missed a 1v1 in the first half before India’s midfield maestro Sahal Abdul Samad missed a glorious opportunity to make a score for India moments after coming on in the second half. And even after that they were few 50-50 chances for Stimac’s men which went unconverted.
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