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FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

Key talking points from India's controversial loss against Qatar in World Cup qualifiers

Published at :June 12, 2024 at 3:28 PM
Modified at :June 12, 2024 at 3:28 PM
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(Courtesy : AIFF Media)

Atawaris Warsi

The Blue Tigers are out of contention to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup

India’s hopes for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and direct entry into the 2027 Asian Cup were dashed after a heartbreaking loss to Qatar in their final World Cup Qualifiers game. Despite opening the scoring in the first half, India faced a devastating turnaround in the dying moments of the match. 

Conceding two crucial goals in the 73rd and 85th minute, the tide shifted against them. However, the match’s turning point came from a contentious refereeing decision that has sparked nationwide debate. This decision, occurring at a critical juncture, significantly impacted the outcome and subsequently India’s qualification prospects. 

While the team displayed resilience and determination, there were several talking points in the game, and we at Khel Now take a look at the same:

The Lone Goal

The Indian team dominated the first half, creating numerous opportunities but lacked a goal for relief. Lallianzuala Chhangte, despite missing a couple of chances, capitalised on Brandon Fernandes’ deflected shot, executing a swift finish inside the penalty area.

Chhangte’s goal brought a much-needed sense of relief to the team. However, Qatar’s controversial goal in the second half shifted the game’s momentum, overshadowing India’s earlier lead. Despite the eventual outcome, Chhangte’s timely strike highlighted the team’s offensive prowess and momentarily buoyed their hopes in the intense World Cup Qualifiers encounter.

Rahim Ali’s shielding a concern

During the match, Rahim Ali’s role as a target man for the Indian team was evident, yet his effectiveness in this role fell short. Despite moments of promise, his inability to fully capitalise on his positioning stood out as a persistent issue. Rahim’s body shielding technique, intended to secure possession and create opportunities, appeared flawed. While he wasn’t entirely ineffective, this aspect of his gameplay seemed slightly off-kilter. 

Contentious Refereeing Decision

The Blue Tigers suffered another setback due to a controversial refereeing decision in their match against Qatar. The controversy arose when Qatar scored a goal that appeared to have been scored from a position where the ball had crossed the boundary lines, a fact evident to Indian defenders.

Despite their protests, the goal stood, denying India the fair outcome they deserved. Unfortunately, for India, this contentious moment contributed to their disappointment in the game.

Good Attacking Sequences

Despite India’s dashed hopes of participating in the FIFA World Cup 2026, their match against Qatar showcased a glimmer of hope in their attacking play.

Throughout the first half, the Indian team displayed several promising attacking sequences characterised by quick short passes and cohesive movement, bridging the previously evident gap between midfield and attack. This newfound fluidity and connectivity in their offensive manoeuvres provided optimism for the team’s future performances. 

Igor Stimac to leave?

The Indian head coach had previously announced that if he failed to help India qualify for Round 3 of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, he would leave the team. With the team now failing to secure that qualification, the question arises as to whether Stimac will leave or not, and if he does, who will replace him?

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