Qatar Shocks India with 3-0 Masterclass in World Cup Qualifier

The Indian men’s football team lost to Qatar 0-3 in their Round 2 of the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 Joint Qualification clash at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Tuesday. Mustafa Tarek Meshaal, Almoez Ali and Yusuf Abdurisag scored as Qatar defeated India 3-0 in their World Cup qualifier. Qatar beat India 3-0 at Kalinga Stadium. (AIFF Image) The Indian coach had indicated that he might alter his tactics and go for different players in different positions, depending of course on the opponent. Lucas Mendes, made his debut for Qatar, with the former Brazilian being naturalized after completing five years of his residency in the country. A tifo unfurled by the Indian fans had a simple message. Believe. Roar. Arsene Wenger, FIFA’s Chief of Global Football Development, walked out to greet the players, with Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, All India Football Federation president Kalyan Chaubey and general secretary NA Haris. Qatar started exerting pressure from the get-go. In the second minute itself, Almoez Ali found the ball at his feet from a poor kick from Amrinder in goal. Even though his initial cross was dealt with, Akram Afif crept up at the far post but his effort was just wide. Carlos Queiroz did not have to wait long to see his side get the lead. Moustafa Tarek Mashal tucked home a bouncing ball in the penalty box. India were down inside four minutes. When India tried to break free from they opted for long balls as Qatar flooded the midfield with bodies. Udanta, Chhangte and Chhetri did try to chase down the balls or were easily muscled off the ball. Sandesh went on to the referee’s book for accidentally elbowing Boualem Khoukhi in the 16th minute. The caution did not hinder the Indian defender’s zeal as he put in an outstretched dive to clear a dangerous ball barely four minutes later. A lull had spread through the thousands of supporters at the Kalinga Stadium. Stoppages in play with players getting injured and choosing to stay on the ground did not help. Indian players had been growing in confidence. In the 35th minute, India managed to string together some beautiful passes, with Chhetri, Udanta, Thapa and Poojary combining well on the right. The intricate passes did not result in much when an onrushing Apuia skied the cut-back. India, though were on the ascendancy. Chhangte’s cross in the 40th did not find any Indian feet as Chhetri’s relentless pressing yielded a chance that Thapa out inches wide in the 42nd. The half ended 1-0. As soon as the second half resumed, Qatar made it 2-0. Khouki put the ball in the box with a deft dink as Akram Afif’s quick shot was saved by Amrinder. Moez Ali though coolly converted the rebound in the 46th minute. Naorem Singh had replaced Udanta. India slowly got into the game again and regained their shape. Stimac decided to bring in Sahal in place of Thapa. Two minutes later in the 65th, he found the ball on the left from Suresh, with only the keeper to beat. His effort though was just wide again. In the 73rd minute, Sahal was again at the heart of the move as he controlled the ball with a swift turn and slipped in Naorem, who could not connect correctly under pressure. Come the 80th minute, the beating drums had lost their rhythm and the chants from the stands, their voice. Even the players on the field were going through the motions. Chhangte and Chhetri came off in the 83rd as Ishan Pandita and Rahul KP took their place. The only ones making some noise in the ground were the handful of Qatari fans present. They got another goal to cheer in the 85th minute as the Indian defence was found napping with Yusuf Abdurisag finding the back of the net.