Qatar has held a strong record in the campaign, defeating Afghanistan 8-1 in the Preliminary Joint Qualification opener.
Qatar’s Al-Annabi cruises past India, recording a 3-0 win in their second successive victory at the co-qualifiers match for the 2026 World Cup edition and the 2027 AFC Asian Cup.
In what was already expected to be a challenging match for India, Qatar’s newly enlisted Mostafa Meshaal struck an early goal in the fourth minute of the game.
Gifted an assist from Tameem Mansour, the 22-year-old midfielder nailed the back of the Indian net with a left-footed kick.
Hometown hero Almoez Ali, who’s been on a scoring record in the tournament, doubled the lead after the half.
Slipping through the lackluster defense, the Qatari hotshot nudged the ball over the line to continue his streak of five goals in the tournament.
In the last few minutes of the match, Qatar’s Yusuf Abdurisag came off the bench to head in a goal after Mohammed Waad’s cross.
India’s failure to attack offensively and hold a secure defensive line against the Qatari squad was one of the main reasons for their loss.
Before the match, India’s coach Igor Stimac admitted that his team expected not to defeat the Gulf State and would aim to “enjoy” the game.
Stimac cited Qatar’s 8-1 game against Afghainstation as the reason for his low expectations in his All India Football Federation (AIFF) interview.
“We have analyzed Qatar from every angle and position and know very well what they are capable of in terms of speed and strength. Their defensive and offensive positions are immaculate, which they demonstrated against Afghanistan by scoring eight goals,” the Croatian football head said.
“They could well have scored eight more. It is going to be very difficult, and I just want the boys to enjoy their game in the next match. The first and bigger part was accomplished by winning against Kuwait, now I want the boys not to take any pressure and show their quality against Qatar,” Stimac added.
Qatar will now prepare for their upcoming title defense at the Asian Cup 2023, which will kick off next year from January 12 to February 10, before resuming their co-qualifying battle with a match against Kuwait in March.