India's FIFA World Cup hopes dashed in controversial defeat to Qatar

Wednesday 12th June 2024 06:42 EDT

India's aspirations of progressing to the third round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers were dashed as Qatar staged a comeback to clinch a 2-1 victory. Despite leading for 73 minutes, the Blue Tigers succumbed to the hosts' pressure, exacerbated by a controversial decision from the linesman, in front of a spirited Indian expatriate audience at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium.

Replays clearly showed that the ball had crossed the byline after a failed attempt by Indian goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu to secure it from a shot fired by a Qatari player. While the Indian players momentarily switched off, Qatar capitalised on the opportunity, retrieving the ball and slotting it into an unguarded net. Despite fervent appeals from the Indian team, the referee and linesman upheld their decision, allowing Qatar to maintain dominance and eventually secure the winning goal.
India had been chasing the improbable dream of advancing to the third round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for the first time in their history. Despite the evident gap in quality between the two teams, India showcased resilience and nearly achieved a remarkable result against the reigning Asian champions.
The visitors began the game cautiously, with Qatari forwards immediately testing Sandhu just two minutes after kickoff. For the first 20 minutes, India found themselves mostly on the defensive, with Qatar effectively controlling possession and circulating the ball. Midway through the half, Stimac's strategic shift saw the players adopting an aggressive pressing style against the opponent. This change proved highly effective, with India consistently winning second balls and launching counterattacks.

comments powered by Disqus

to the free, weekly Asian Voice email newsletter