Today, the Indian football team will lock horns against Asian Champions Qatar in a FIFA World Cup Qualifier game at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
Indian National Team Preview
Igor Stimac’s side has been on a poor run of form, winning one out of their previous 12 games. India’s campaign under coach Igor Stimac started on a positive note before losing steam in the later stages.
The Blue Tigers started their campaign against Oman, where after taking a crucial lead, the men in blue bottled it to end up on the losing side. However, a goalless draw against Felix Sanchez’s Qatar in the return fixture gave rise to waves of hope and optimism to over a billion people throughout the country.
But those hopes were dashed soon as India avoided embarrassment at the hands of Afghanistan and Bangladesh – courtesy of last-minute equalizers to save their blushes. Then, the men in blue failed again, this time against Onam in their return fixture, leaving Igor Stimac’s men reeling with only three points to their name after five games. In their recent friendly outing against UAE, Igor’s men were outclassed and battered in a 6-0 humbling at the Zabeel Stadium in Dubai, leaving much to be desired from his team.
Qatar National Team Preview
Felix Sanchez’s men have already qualified for the 2022 FIFA World Cup as hosts. Despite that, the reigning AFC Asian Cup champions have enjoyed a near-faultless qualifying campaign so far, with the 0-0 draw against India in September 2019 their only blemish.
Qatar sits atop Group E, with 16 points to their name and an unbeaten campaign. The Asian champions have scored 16 goals in their six group stage games while conceding just one goal. In their last five competitive encounters, Qatar has only lost against South Korea, while disposing of Bangladesh 5-0 in their recent World Cup Qualifier bout.
Felix Sanchez has named a strong 27-player squad for the Asian/World Cup Qualifiers, with the likes of 2019 Asian Cup top goalscorer Almoez Ali, Akram Afif, and Hasan Alhaydos all coming back into the side. The Asian champions don’t lack match exposure either, taking impressive victories against the likes of Luxembourg and Azerbaijan before earning a hard-fought 1-1 draw against the Republic of Ireland in March.
While Qatar sits at the top of the table, unbeaten and averaging three goals a game. The Blue Tigers currently occupy fourth place, winless and without match fitness. The three points will go a long way in securing India’s bid for an automatic spot in the third round of the Qualifiers for the AFC Asian Cup China 2023, with matches against Afghanistan and Bangladesh to follow. But even with the return of talisman Sunil Chettri, scrapping a point from this fixture seems a far-fetched dream.
Qatar 4-0 India