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FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

How can India still qualify for Round 3 of FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers?

Published at :June 7, 2024 at 3:29 PM
Modified at :June 7, 2024 at 3:29 PM
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Atawaris Warsi

The Blue Tigers could only manage a draw in Sunil Chhetri’s final match against Kuwait

The Indian football team’s hopes to reach Round 3 of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers took a hit as they were held to a goalless draw by Kuwait, a disappointing send-off for the legendary Sunil Chhetri. Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s resistance against Qatar has intensified the competition in Group A, creating a nerve-wracking scenario for India.

The Blue Tigers now face a daunting task as they prepare to play Qatar in their den in their final FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifier, a match crucial for their chances of advancing.

At Khel Now, we will explore the scenarios that could allow India to qualify for Round 3 of the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers. Despite the challenges, various possibilities still exist for India to secure their spot, provided they deliver a strong performance against Qatar and other results in the group work in their favour. 

So, without any further ado, let’ dive into it:

Scenario 1

India beat Qatar, India progresses…Simple!

Well, it’s not as simple as it looks on paper. For your information, Qatar were the champions of the AFC Asian Cup 2023 and are also leading the charts in Group A, having qualified for Round 3. If the Blue Tigers somehow do the unthinkable, it will be one of the best victories in Indian football’s history.

Also if Afghanistan lose/draw against Kuwait or wins with a goal difference of less than seven, then the Blue Tigers will still progress to Round 3.

Scenario 2

India draws against Qatar, and Afghanistan draws against Kuwait

Now, coming to the realistic scenario, if the Blue Tigers manage to draw against Qatar, and Afghanistan and Kuwait also play out a draw, the qualification to the third round will be based on goal difference. In this case, India will progress since the Blue Tigers have a better goal difference compared to the Afghans.

Reaching the third round of World Cup qualifiers would place India among Asia’s top 18 nations, competing in three groups of six teams, with 10 games – five at home and five away. While it might be unrealistic to expect India to be highly competitive, the experience would be invaluable for the team’s growth.

Additionally, finishing second in their group ensures direct qualification for the AFC Asian Cup 2027 in Saudi Arabia. Otherwise, the Blue Tigers will need to navigate additional qualifiers. But for now to advance, the Blue Tigers must replicate their 2019 heroics against Qatar and hope Afghanistan holds Kuwait to a draw.

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