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Top performers from India's disappointing loss against Afghanistan in 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

Published at :March 27, 2024 at 12:44 PM
Modified at :March 27, 2024 at 12:44 PM
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(Courtesy : AIFF media)


Afghanistan made a brilliant comeback after conceding early.

Indian men’s national football team suffered a massive setback in their quest to qualify into the third round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers after a 2-1 defeat to Afghanistan at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati in Assam on 26 March 2024. Due to the shock loss, the Blue Tigers have a tough challenge ahead of them where they must win against either Kuwait or Qatar to find a place in the final round of the AFC qualifiers for the upcoming World Cup.

Igor Stimac, head coach of India, talked about his players failing to do simple things such as passing and controlling the ball properly which cost the team dearly in the end. Afghanistan’s players looked hungrier and more willing to secure a win. Indian players were underwhelming in their performance and let the spectators down, who came in large numbers to support them.

As India succumbed to a shocking defeat to Afghanistan, here is a look at the top three performers from the game.

Sunil Chhetri

Top performers from India's disappointing loss against Afghanistan in 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
Sunil Chhetri takes the crucial penalty. (Image Source: AIFF)

Sunil Chhetri marked his 150th appearance for the Indian national team with a goal. The skipper stepped up to take a pressure penalty and converted it calmly to give India the lead in the match. As soon as he was substituted to inject more intensity into the attacking play, the Indian team conceded two goals in the second half to end up on the losing side.

Every Indian player disappointed the fans in the defeat to Afghanistan at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati, Assam. However, one cannot deny praise to Sunil Chhetri for scoring from the penalty spot despite the huge pressure on his shoulders.

Taufee Skandari

Taufee Skandari was a constant menace to the Indian defenders. He caused a lot of problems thanks to his movement and physicality. He took a sensational shot from long range which needed a heroic save from Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to be kept out.

Taufe Skandari’s industry and willingness to put his body on the line made a huge difference. He symbolized Afghanistan’s never-say-die attitude that got them the victory in the end.

Rahmat Akbari

Top performers from India's disappointing loss against Afghanistan in 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
Rahmat Akbari in action (Image Source: SBS)

Rahmat Akbari played his heart out to help Afghanistan dominate India, particularly in the second half. The 23-year-old showed maturity beyond his years and executed line-breaking passes brilliantly during the game.

It was his equalizer that gave Afghanistan hopes of a positive result. He is one to watch out for and a huge prospect in Afghanistan’s football sphere. Ashley Westwood relies on the midfielder and Akbari does not let his coach down. His work rate without the ball is equally impressive as his technical quality on the ball. 

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