The Indian men’s football team had a dream start to Round 2 of the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 Joint Qualification campaign. A win away to Kuwait means a statistical advantage against the team the Blue Tigers are poised to fight over the second spot with, which means passage through to the next round of qualifiers, as well as, a guaranteed spot in the next edition of the AFC Asian Cup.
Qatar, the defending Asian champions and ranked 61st in the FIFA rankings, is up next. India are ranked 102nd.
India had managed to hold the then newly crowned Asian Cup winners Qatar 0-0 in 2019. Qatar did go on to beat India 1-0 in the reverse fixture in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
A win at home against the side which will be fighting for the position of group toppers may not be easy this time but familiar conditions will surely help. Qatar, in their first game, had displayed rampaging form to outclass Afghanistan 8-1.
The star for Qatar was Almoez Ali, who was the top scorer for them at the 2019 Asian Cup and will be the focal point of their attack again. Hassan Al-Haydos, Qatar’s most-capped among the squad, will also pose a serious threat, capable of both scoring goals and providing assists.
Sunil Chhetri and his boys will host Qatar at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. India had started their journey this year with the Intercontinental Cup at the same venue and went on to dominate the field.
Despite India’s winning momentum coming to a halt ahead of the start of the World Cup qualifiers, Igor Stimac led India to a clinical win in their opener. The win ensured India got an away win for the first time since the 2021 SAFF Championship final, a 3-0 victory against Nepal, in Male, Maldives. The Blue Tigers since then have managed to draw once and lost seven away. Contrastingly, India are still on an 11-game unbeaten streak at home, with losses coming only in the King’s Cup and Merdeka Cup.