QAT 2-1 IND, FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: India's Qualification Journey Ends With Controversial Loss

Kuwait on the other hand defeated Afghanistan 1-0 in their last match of the second round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifier to advance to the next round

India lost to Qatar in FIFA World Cup Qualifier Photo: X/@IndianFootball

India's 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification journey ended on Tuesday through a 1-2 loss to Qatar in the second round of the qualifiers at Doha's Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium with the opening goal of the hosts coming in a highly controversial manner.

The Blue Tigers were leading 1-0 till the 73rd minute when poor refereeing helped Qatar equalise through a goal which came after the ball was brought into play from outside the back line and pushed into the Indian goal post by Youssef Ayman Farahat.

The Indian side led by goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu registered a strong protest but the referee stood by his decision. Replays showed the ball clearly rolling past the back line.

India had to avoid a lose to remain in contention to advance to the third round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers for the first time in their history. However, after the controversial goal cancelled India's early lead taken through Lallianzuala Chhangte's 35th minute strike, Qatar's Ahmed Alrawi gave the decisive blow in the 85th minute to run away with the match.

Before the controversial goal, India were going strong especially in the first half.

Playing their first match since the retirement of their talisman striker and leader Sunil Chhetri five days ago, Indian team dominated the first half against a high-ranked Qatar which had fielded its second string side.

After Sandhu blocked a few early shots from the Qatari side, India went into attack mode and unsettled the hosts. The opening goal finally came in the 35th minute as Chhangte found a diagonal pass from Brandon Fernandes and shot the ball past the Qatari keeper at the near post.

Disaster struck in the 73rd minute as poor refereeing led to Qatar equalising the score.

Meanwhile, with Kuwait scoring in the 81st minute of their match against Afghanistan going on simultaneously, India needed an outright win to advance to the third round.

However, an 85th minute goal from Alrawi broke Indian hearts as he curled the ball from outside the box and into the bottom corner past a flailing Gurpreet.

Kuwait on the other hand defeated Afghanistan 1-0 in their last match of the second round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifier and joined Qatar to advance to the next round.