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How Can India Qualify for The 3rd Round of FIFA World Cup Qualifier After Their Recent Draw Against Afghanistan? Exploring all the possible scenarios

India kicked off their campaign with a 1-0 victory against Kuwait. However, their hopes were dampened by a 3-0 loss to Qatar in Bhubaneshwar, which didn’t bode well for their standing. Moreover, the draw against Afghanistan has added to the challenges, making India’s task even more daunting.

Indian Captain Sunil Chhetri Against Afghanistan Image Credits AIFF jpg How Can India Qualify for The 3rd Round of FIFA World Cup Qualifier After Their Recent Draw Against Afghanistan? Exploring all the possible scenarios
Indian Captain Sunil Chhetri Against Afghanistan, Image Credits- AIFF

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India’s Struggle Continues: Stalemate Against Afghanistan Adds Pressure in FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers

The Indian men’s football team’s concerning streak in the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers persisted on Thursday with a goalless draw against Afghanistan in Saudi Arabia. Despite being in second place prior to the match, India maintains that position after the draw, accumulating four points from three games.

Even before the encounter, India seemed favored against the lower-ranked Afghanistan and were anticipated to secure a victory. However, India squandered opportunities, notably with forward Manvir Singh missing two close chances in the first half. While Afghanistan also had scoring opportunities, they failed to capitalize.

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Afghanistan, with just one point from three games and a goal difference of -11, faces slim chances of progressing to the third round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. On the other hand, India remains in contention. Notably, India has never advanced to the third round of qualifiers, making the upcoming matches crucial to sustain their aspirations.

How Can India Qualify for The 3rd Round of FIFA World Cup Qualifier After Their Recent Draw Against Afghanistan

How can India secure advancement to the next round of qualifiers despite the draw? Here’s an analysis:

Indias Manvir Singh Against Afghanistan Image Credits AIFF jpg How Can India Qualify for The 3rd Round of FIFA World Cup Qualifier After Their Recent Draw Against Afghanistan? Exploring all the possible scenarios
India’s Manvir Singh Against Afghanistan, Image Credits- AIFF

At the midway mark of the FIFA World Cup Qualification second round, India finds itself in a cautiously positioned situation. Although they initiated their campaign with a 1-0 victory over Kuwait, a 3-0 loss to Qatar in Bhubaneshwar has not favored their cause, and the stalemate against Afghanistan has only intensified India’s challenge. In reality, securing two wins against Afghanistan (one on Thursday and another on 26 March) would have placed India in a favorable position for qualification.

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In each of the nine groups, the top two teams progress to the third round. It goes without saying that India must triumph in all three of their remaining matches and cannot afford to drop any more points. This would elevate them to 13 points from six games. Furthermore, they must ensure that Kuwait, with three points from as many games, secures only two wins in their remaining three matches, or ideally, fails to secure a victory at all.

If India were to draw two more matches, they would be left with only six points from five games. This would also provide Kuwait with the opportunity to catch up with a couple of wins.

If India ends up drawing against Afghanistan in the return leg in Guwahati on 26 March, and Kuwait manages to defeat Qatar, then the upcoming clash between India and Kuwait on 6 June could potentially determine the second-place finish in the group.

Indias Nikhil Poojary Against Afghanistan Image Credits AIFF jpg How Can India Qualify for The 3rd Round of FIFA World Cup Qualifier After Their Recent Draw Against Afghanistan? Exploring all the possible scenarios
India’s Nikhil Poojary Against Afghanistan, Image Credits- AIFF

In simple terms, India cannot afford to lose or draw any more games in the FIFA World Cup qualification second round. This is because the more points they drop, the greater the risk of missing out on those top two spots becomes. Currently, Qatar holds a five-point lead over India, with nine points compared to India’s four points. With Kuwait and Afghanistan both striving to catch up with three and one point(s) respectively, it poses a challenging situation for Igor Stimac’s team.

However, Afghanistan faces a hurdle with a negative goal difference, meaning even if they secure three victories, it may not guarantee them a spot in the second round. They might have to rely on other results to go in their favor.

India’s Upcoming Fixtures in the FIFA World Cup Qualification Second Round are as Follows:

  • 26 March: India vs Afghanistan (Home)
  • 6 June: India vs Kuwait (Home)
  • 11 June: India vs Qatar (Away)

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