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How can Indian football team qualify for World Cup Qualifiers Third Round?

How can Indian football team qualify for World Cup Qualifiers Third Round 2024

The Indian football team returns to action on the 22nd of March as the Blue Tigers led by head coach Igor Stimac and captained by Sunil Chhetri will be taking Afghanistan football team in a FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifier match in Saudi Arabia.

While the qualification to the FIFA World Cup 2026 proper is a big unlikely to happen, Team India is mainly hoping to make it to the third round of the qualifier, where the Blue Tigers will be facing off some tough teams remaining in the competition.

Team India have got off to a good start in the World Cup qualifiers, mainly due to their away win against Kuwait in November. Manvir Singh's only goal guided the team to the victory. But, followed that with a 3-0 defeat against Qatar at home. After 2 matches played, Team India currently sits 3rd in the group behind Qatar (6 points), Kuwait (3 points), India (3 points) and Afghanistan yet to open an account. 

In this article, we take a look at how the Indian football team can qualify for FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifier third round.

Team India is set to play 2 matches against Afghanistan during the March FIFA International window. They will play 1 match each against Kuwait and Qatar as well in June. In total, the Blue Tigers will be fighting for 12 points, but excluding the Qatar match really, Team India will be hoping to get the maximum 9 points from their 3 matches against Afghanistan and Kuwait.

For India to qualify to the World Cup qualifier third round, they must look to win both of their match against Afghanistan on the 22nd March and 26th March. When India will be taking on Afghanistan, Kuwait and Qatar will play against each other in a double-header, where Qatar is the pre-match favourite, thus if India should look to win both the match against Afghanistan and end the March window 2nd placed in the group with 9 points, 3 points from the previous match against Kuwait and 6 points from the Afghanistan double-header.

Imagining the scenario that India win both their matches against Afghanistan and Kuwait lose both their matches against Qatar, Team India will sit 2nd with 9 points, Kuwait will have 3 points. From this scenario, Team India will have to get atleast a point from the Kuwait match at home in June, that should eventually India's qualification to the third round. 

In case India fail to get any points from the Kuwait match, Kuwait will play its last match of the group stage against Afghanistan, which is almost a sure win. In that, India and Kuwait will be level with 9 points and the match could be decided by head-to-head or goal difference. Thus, the simplistic way for India to qualify would be the get atleast a point from that.

Indian football FIFA World Cup Qualifier Third Round Qualification Scenario

1) Win both the matches against Afghanistan. Also hope that Qatar beat Kuwait atleast once out of the two matches in March. Qatar beating Kuwait in both matches is an added advantage.

2) India get atleast one point from their home match against Kuwait in June. All 3 points are preferable.

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