Meet Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, new India captain after Sunil Chhetri

India’s next opponents Qatar, who have already qualified for the third round as group-toppers, have named a largely youthful squad, with 21 out of their 29 players below the age of 24.

The two-time Asian champions were held goalless by Afghanistan in Hofuf, Saudi Arabia on Thursday, in a match they dominated but failed to break down the resolute Afghan defence.

‘’⁠We have watched the Afghanistan versus Qatar game and will work on the attacking transition in the next two days, with a hope to start scoring goals from the chances we create,’’ Stimac said after the Blue Tigers reached Doha late on Saturday. 

With the odds being stacked against them, India had their first practice session in Doha on Sunday evening before the official training session at the match venue on Monday. Should they lose against Qatar, it will be curtains to their hopes for making it to the third round of the Fifa qualifiers.

They will, however, be transferred to the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers third round to battle for a place at the 2027 tournament in Saudi Arabia. However, if they manage to turn the tables on Qatar, India will be in pole position to qualify for the Fifa World Cup Qualifiers third round and a direct spot at the AFC Asian Cup thanks to their much-superior goal difference over Afghanistan. 

If India draw against Qatar, they can still qualify for the third round only if the match between Kuwait and Afghanistan, which kicks off in Kuwait City two hours after India’s match, also ends in a draw. In such a scenario, India will finish second in the group with six points (the same as Afghanistan) but with a better goal-difference.

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