A massive controversy erupted during India’s FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifier match against Qatar on Tuesday at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium in Doha. The hosts struck a controversial goal to level the contest before sneaking the winner in the game’s closing minutes. India never managed to recover from that disputed goal, and the heartbreaking 1-2 loss ended their World Cup dream, as they were eliminated from the tournament in the second round.

India suffered an exit from FIFA World Cup qualifiers

Lallianzuala Chhangte gave India a deserving lead in the 37th minute of the contest and stood on the verge of scripting a big win in their first match after Sunil Chhetri’s retirement, but in a moment of controversy, the Gurpreet Singh Sandhu-led team lost the plot.

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It happened in the 73rd minute of the match when Yousef Aymen struck the equaliser after the ball had clearly gone out of play. Gurpreet saved the header from Aymen at the far post, before the ball trickled under him and crossed the line, implying a corner for Qatar. But Al-Hashmi backheeled the ball into the box, and Aymen tapped it in for a goal.

Qatar players burst into a wild celebration, while the Indian players vehemently protested, with Sandhu charging towards the line referee to explain that the ball was out of play. But none of the match officials paid any heed to the requests. Moreover, with no VAR decision, India were wronged owing to “pathetic refereeing.”

India robbed a spot in third round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

Ahmed Al-Rawi scored the second goal for the Asian champions in the 85th minute of the match as Qatar bounced back to claim victory. In another final second-round match, Kuwait beat Afghanistan 1-0. Qatar and Kuwait thus progressed to the next round of the Qualifiers.

Playing barely five days after Chhetri’s international retirement, not many gave the 121-ranked side a chance against Qatar, but Igor Stimac’s men turned the tables in style and looked on course of a historic win after Chhangte’s goal.

The 27-year-old winger struck the ball accurately into the bottom corner after a diagonal pass from Brandon Fernandes. He made no mistake after receiving the ball, as he deceived his marker to break the deadlock. It was a sort of redemption for Chhangte as he found the back of the net after failing to convert two chances created by Brandon. Chhangte’s strike not only broke the deadlock but also etched his name in Indian football history, making him India’s highest-scoring active player with 8 goals, a feat to be proud of.

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