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India Draws Inspiration from 2019 Stalemate Against Qatar for 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifier

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– Indian football
– 2022 FIFA World Cup
– Qatar national football team
– Sunil Chhetri
– Igor Stimac
– AFC Asian Cup

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India will seek to draw inspiration from their memorable goal-less draw against Asian champions Qatar four years ago as they prepare to face the same opponents in the 2026 FIFA World Cup second round qualifiers match in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday. Following their confidence-boosting 1-0 away win against Kuwait on November 16, the Indian team is determined to put up a fierce fight against Qatar, despite the visiting side being heavily favored to win.

In their 2022 World Cup second round qualifiers match in Doha on September 10, 2019, India surprised many by holding Qatar to a 0-0 draw, even as the opponents were in peak form after winning the Asia Cup title earlier that year. With talismanic captain Sunil Chhetri’s absence in that match, India will be eager to make their mark at the Kalinga Stadium on Tuesday, although they are expected to have fewer scoring opportunities than the visiting team.

Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, who led the team four years ago in Doha, will need to deliver another stellar performance to thwart the aggressive Qataris. Currently ranked 61st in the world, Qatar is coming off an 8-1 victory against Afghanistan in their previous match and will be aiming to secure a decisive win against the 102nd-ranked India.

Qatar, who emerged as 1-0 victors in the reverse fixture of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, will rely on star striker Almoez Ali, who recently scored four goals against Afghanistan. Indian defenders will need to be on high alert, especially without the services of Anwar Ali. Head coach Igor Stimac acknowledges the daunting challenge ahead but remains optimistic about India’s chances against Qatar.

Grouped with Qatar, Kuwait, and Afghanistan in Group A, India has a strong chance of progressing to the third round of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. A successful run in this competition could also secure qualification for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup, a milestone that the Indian team has not achieved before. After their recent 1-0 victory over Kuwait, India is in a promising position and eager to seize the opportunity to make history in the upcoming match against Qatar.

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