• Wednesday, July 24, 2024

FOOTBALL

FIFA WC Qualifiers: Poor refereeing robs India of a chance to script history

Eid Al-Rashidi scored the winner for Kuwait in the 81st minute, allowing Qatar and Kuwait to progress to the second round of the Qualifiers.

Indian supporters were present in large numbers and often outcheered the home crowd. (Photo credit: All India Football Federation)

By: Vivek Mishra

Poor refereeing cost India a historic entry into the third round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers as Qatar emerged 2-1 winners on Tuesday.

India initially led through Lallianzuala Chhangte’s 37th-minute goal, but the game changed when the referee allowed Yousef Aymen’s 73rd-minute equaliser despite the ball appearing to go out of play.

Qatar then secured victory with Ahmed Al-Rawi’s 85th-minute goal.

India’s hopes were high after leading 1-0 at halftime, with Kuwait and Afghanistan goalless in the other match. However, the controversial decision and Al-Rawi’s subsequent strike shattered the Indian dream in minutes.

Eid Al-Rashidi scored the winner for Kuwait in the 81st minute, allowing Qatar and Kuwait to progress to the second round.

Playing soon after the international retirement of Sunil Chhetri, India, ranked 121, was not expected to perform well. However, Igor Stimac’s team surprised many with Chhangte’s goal. Chhangte, a 27-year-old winger from Mizoram, scored after receiving a pass from Brandon Fernandes, marking his eighth goal as India’s highest-scoring active player.

Indian supporters were present in large numbers and often outcheered the home crowd.

Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu made crucial saves early on, and Mehtab Singh blocked a goal-line shot by Ahmed Alrawi, keeping India competitive.

India’s forwards and midfielders pressed Qatar’s defence effectively, creating several scoring opportunities.

In the 25th minute, Jeakson Singh played Rahim Ali through behind Qatar’s defence, but his cross missed Chhangte and Manvir Singh.

Manvir’s 31st-minute effort was also saved. Chhangte intercepted a pass, played a one-two with Brandon, and passed to Rahim, who was just short. Chhangte eventually scored after a through pass from Brandon.

In the second half, India shifted to a mid-block defence, allowing Qatar to exploit half-space channels.

Despite substitutions and counterattacks, Qatar equalised through Ayman, despite Indian protests about the ball being out of play.

Jay Gupta and Liston Colaco had chances, but Alrawi’s goal in the 85th minute sealed the match for Qatar.

(PTI)

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