India vs Qatar preview: After their 1-0 win against Kuwait, India are set to host Qatar at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar for their second FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier. The Blue Tigers head into the game as underdogs, with Qatar defeating Afghanistan 8-1 in their first game to gather a significant amount of momentum.
Igor Stimac will be expected to field a similar line-up to what had been seen in the first game. Veterans Sunil Chhetri, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu and Sandesh Jhingan are all expected to start, with Manvir Singh retaining his spot up front after scoring the match winner against Kuwait.
India vs Qatar preview: What to expect from the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier
The midfield chosen is anybody’s guess, with Sahal Samad, Anirudh Thapa, Lalengmawia Ralte and Suresh Wangjam all gunning for a starting spot. Full-backs Rahul Bheke and Akash Mishra are also expected to start, while Sandesh Jhingan might be joined by Chungnunga Lal in central defence after missing out on the first game.
Qatar, on the other hand, will be keen on Almoez Ali continuing his 4-goal form against Afghanistan in India, joined by Ahmed Alaaeldin and Akram Afif upfront.
While we might expect India to defend deep and play on the counter, they have been fearless in their approach even against stronger opponents. And the same can be expected against Qatar, although the result depends on who is more clinical in front of goal in such a high-stakes fixture.