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2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers India Rival Watch: Qatar

Published at :June 10, 2024 at 1:30 PM
Modified at :June 10, 2024 at 1:31 PM
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Qatar are already in the final round of the qualifiers.

India men’s football team are set to play its final Group A game of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers (second round) fixture against Qatar on 11 June 2024 in Al Rayyan, Qatar. The Blue Tigers find themselves in a difficult situation, needing a win against the Asian champions that have yet to taste defeat in the qualifiers.

Qatar have won the last two editions of the AFC Asian Cup and are favourite to represent the continent at the upcoming FIFA World Cup. Seeing them lose to India is highly unlikely considering the form of both the respective nations. 

Igor Stimac has to deliver a win for India but looking at the quality in both camps, that can be a far-fetched idea. The Maroons are determined to improve on the draw against Afghanistan and will be looking to finish the second round of qualifiers with a victory. As the ultimate fixture of the World Cup Qualifiers nears, here is an in-depth look at the reigning Asian champions:

About the team

Qatar’s national football team emerged to prominence when the country hosted the 2022 FIFA World Cup. In the run-up to the tournament, the side won the 2018-19 AFC Asian Cup, their first-ever. While the World Cup campaign was disappointing for the Maroons, they silenced their critics by successfully defending their Asian Cup title by winning the 2023 edition. 

Qatar have higher ambitions than merely winning Group A of the second round of the AFC region’s FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. The outfit aims to reach the 2026 World Cup and deliver a better performance than it’s debut one.

Recent Performances

Qatar are leading Group A with four wins and one draw from five matches, scoring a whopping 16 goals and conceding only two. The outfit is on a 10-match unbeaten run and has won nine out of those 10 fixtures.

Their last defeat was to Jordan in January 2024 in an international friendly and have decimated every opposition since then, winning the 2023 AFC Asian Cup in the process. The draw against Afghanistan in their previous outing was a surprise result, as the Maroons had demolished The Lions of Khorasan by 8-1 in the reverse fixture.

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

The Coach

Tintin Marquez Lopez

Tintin Marquez Lopez took over as Qatar men’s football team’s manager from Carlos Queiroz in December 2023. He was immediately tested in difficult conditions but delivered beyond expectations by guiding the national team to winning the 2023 AFC Asian Cup. 

Since his appointment, the tactician has won nine out of 12 matches in charge of the Qatar national team. He has earned a lot of praise for allowing the players in the national team to express themselves in the final third and pushing the team to focus more on the attacking front.

His eyes are set on performing well in the 2026 FIFA World Cup and qualifying for it on merit is one of the central objectives for the manager.

Also Read: Qatar vs India Preview, predicted lineup, injury news, H2H, telecast | 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

Players to Watch

Tahseen Mohammad

Marquez Lopez gave a nod to young players for the matches in June as Qatar has already qualified for the final round of the qualifiers.

Indian football fans will have their eyes on Tahseen Mohammad who possesses the ‘Mission Passport’ which is a passport with an expiry date. The Indian citizen is a promising young talent and has rightly been included in the senior team.

Ahmed Al-Rawi

Ahmed Al-Rawi is a promising young player who plies his trade in the Qatar Stars League for heavyweights Al-Rayyan SC. The 20-year-old showed positive signs in the goalless draw against Afghanistan.

He is likely to start against India and will be hungry to find the back of the net. Ahmed is a tricky dribbler who can hurt defenders with his pace and movement behind the backline.

What to Expect

Qatar are fielding a young side to give them exposure and give their experienced players well-deserved rest. Their draw against Afghanistan was surprising but the outfit is playing with players who are still learning the tools of the trade. The opportunity is ripe for India to make the most of the situation and play for three points without fear.

Having said that, Qatar’s young players have immense potential. They play for notable clubs domestically and have no shortage of talent. The Blue Tigers can expect their opposition to play with pace and vigour, attempting to improve on the goalless draw against the Lions of Khorasan.

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