Can India Secure Qualification for FIFA World Cup 2026: Explained

India has never directly qualified for the FIFA World Cup in football history. Following Sunil Chhetri’s retirement, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has taken over as the captain of the Indian football team. The team is set to face reigning Asian champions Qatar in a pivotal Group A match during the second round of the FIFA World Cup 2026 AFC qualifiers at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha.

The match between Qatar and India is scheduled to kick off at 9:15 PM IST and will be available for live streaming in India. However, India will be without Sunil Chhetri for this crucial match, as the legendary striker announced his retirement from international football after a goalless draw against Kuwait in Kolkata recently. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu will lead the Indian side in Doha.

For head coach Igor Stimac’s India, the outcome of this match against Qatar will be a defining moment in their quest to qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2026. The team needs to secure a positive result to keep their hopes alive.

In order to progress to the third round of the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers, India must finish in the top two of Group A after the second round. The teams that advance to the third round will not only qualify for the FIFA World Cup 2026 but also earn direct entry to the AFC Asian Cup 2027 in Saudi Arabia.

As it stands, Qatar has already secured the top spot in Group A with 13 points, leaving India, Afghanistan, and Kuwait to battle for the second position. India currently sits in second place with five points, but their position is precarious as they are only ahead of third-placed Afghanistan based on goal difference. Kuwait is in fourth place with four points.

Heading into the final round of fixtures, all three teams – India, Afghanistan, and Kuwait – have a chance to secure the second spot in the group. India’s simplest path forward would be to defeat Qatar outright, which would take their points tally to eight. However, this will be a challenging task as India is ranked 121st in the FIFA Rankings, significantly lower than Qatar’s 34th position.

In case of a draw against Qatar, India would have six points and would need to rely on other results to secure qualification. A loss, on the other hand, would end India’s hopes of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup 2026.

Even if India progresses to the third round of qualifiers, it does not guarantee their spot in the FIFA World Cup 2026. The team would have to navigate through additional rounds and competitions to secure their place in the prestigious tournament.

In conclusion, India faces a crucial match against Qatar that will determine their chances of qualifying for the FIFA World Cup 2026. The team will need to put up a spirited performance to keep their dream alive.

To watch the Qatar vs India FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers live, fans can tune in to FanCode for live streaming coverage. The match is scheduled to take place at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha at 9:15 PM IST.