Blunt India Frustrated with 0-0 Draw Against Afghanistan

The recent match between India and Afghanistan in the 2026 World Cup qualifier ended in a goalless draw, leaving India with four points and in second place in group A.

India leads the group with four points and is poised to secure an unprecedented third-round berth in the 2026 World Cup qualifying tournament.

Blunt India Frustrated with 0-0 Draw Against Afghanistan

Afghanistan drew India 0-0 in group A of their 2026 World Cup qualifying match on Friday, despite a players’ revolt and by playing with the huge disparity in FIFA rankings. After leaders Qatar defeated Kuwait 3-0 on Thursday, the result moved India, who are still looking for their first victory of the year, to four points and second position in the four-team group. The rematch between India and Afghanistan takes place in Guwahati on Tuesday.

The games in June will determine whether India advances to the third phase of the World Cup qualification cycle and guarantees a spot in the 2027 Asian Cup, barring Afghanistan’s victory in that match and Kuwait’s shock of Qatar. That will be challenging until India strengthens their offensive line between now and June, despite head coach Igor Stimac’s claims that they will advance farther in the World Cup qualifying round than any other Indian team.

India struggled to play down the middle and had trouble with crosses. India was let down by their lack of skill in the final third despite having more possession. The finishing was standard, and making decisions was frequently not even that. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu gave away a throw-in after attempting to locate a defender to initiate a move.

That was what Anwar Ali did when he wanted to play to Akash Mishra. Vikram Pratap Singh and Lalengmawia Ralte also ended up playing to nobody. This was most definitely not the recipe for India to seize the early upper hand against a side placed 41 spots lower at 158 on a pitch left greasy after a strong shower.

That was clearly the objective from the beginning. With Manvir Singh at his side, Nikhil Poojary bombed down the right. At Abha’s Damac Club Stadium, Mishra remained to the side while Lallianzuala Chhangte was occupied as India attempted to use the park’s width. However, it was insignificant because Afghanistan was obstructing delivery routes.

Ashley Westwood, the coach of Afghanistan, would have been happier at half-time in the Saudi Arabian mountains if Ralte and Jeakson Singh, who returned after a lengthy injury layoff, had been able to take control of the midfield and if Sunil Chhetri had not dropped deep to assist.

India was unable to locate passes that would beat the center block since Afghanistan would not be pulled out, which resulted in a gritty game of half-chances where both teams thought they should have been awarded a penalty apiece.

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After Chhangte located him, Manvir Singh attempted a flick that resulted in an away goal in Kuwait, but he was unable to keep it within the frame. The free-kick from Chhangte was headed over by Rahul Bheke, and in the 33rd minute, Afghanistan captain Haroon Amiri stopped Vikram Pratap Singh from entering the penalty area.

It was the first time India had passed the ball from right to left and then discovered a man inside the penalty box of Afghanistan. In the 36th minute, they repeated the action, with Amiri clearing for Manvir Singh to head out of a corner kick. After Ralte had found Vikram Pratap Singh, Amiri’s block then prevented the ball from reaching Chhetri, saving Afghanistan early in the restart. Then, Vikram Pratap failed to keep a header on goal.

He was replaced at the hour mark by Brandon Fernandes. After Subhasish Bose replaced Mishra in a double substitution, Afghanistan almost scored in the 62nd minute due to Bose’s failure to adjust to the game’s pace.

Rahmat Akbari received a pass from Mosawer Ahadi that went by Bose, but the Afghanistan midfielder got into a confrontation with Omid Popalzay. India’s greatest opportunity came in the 80th minute when Liston Colaco won a corner kick. Bose, though, was unable to keep a free header on target. It embodied the nightlife of India.

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