Bhubaneswar: Qatar continued their winning start to Group A of the Preliminary Joint Qualification – Round 2 for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027, beating India 3-0 at the Kalinga Stadium on Tuesday.
A win successive win that opened up a three point gap for Qatar at the top of the group, Carlo Queiroz’s men had brushed aside Afghanistan 8-1 in their opening match, while India came away from Kuwait with a valuable three points, winning 1-0 last week.
Qatar missed a golden opportunity inside the first two minutes when Akram Afif was found all alone six-yards out. However, he failed to convert and India survived the first real chance of the match.
Yet Afif’s blushes were spared just moments later. India failed to deal with a corner and Mostafa Meshaal took full advantage, hammering his strike home inside the box.
Afif was at the heart of Qatar’s attacks, and quick play with captain Hasan Al Haydos found him inside the box, only for his strike to be well blocked for a corner.
Wave after wave of attack continued for the visitors, including a free header from the goalscorer Meshaal, but they weren’t able to add to their tally before half-time.
With minutes until the half-time whistle, Qatar’s centre-back Boulalem Khoukhi carelessly gave the ball near his own area, but Anirirudh Thapa spurned his shot in what was India’s biggest and only chance of the half.
As with the first half, Qatar were ruthless from the off. Almoez Ali doubled Qatar’s lead inside 60 seconds of the restart after Afif’s shot fell to the striker less than a yard out, who steered the ball home for his fifth goal of the qualifiers.
Qatar’s dominance continued as they hit 10 corners inside the hour, as they continued to look to add to their ten goals scored against both Afghanistan and India.
India’s best chance of the match fell to Naroem Singh, after Suresh Wangjam found him through the middle all on his own, but the substitute dragged his effort wide of the target.
Ali came close to scoring his second of the match, and Qatar’s third, when he opened up his body and curled one to the far corner from the edge of the box. Everyone was beaten but his effort clipped the top of the crossbar.
Qatar were able to score their third in the final few minutes of the match. A cross in from the left from Mohammed Waad found Yusuf Abdurisag who was able to steer his header into the roof of the net.
Next up, India will take on Afghanistan away from home in the new year, while Qatar host Kuwait in Group A.