India draw Qatar, Kuwait in four-team Group A of Round 2 Qualifiers

The Blue Tigers have been drawn in Group A of the FIFA World Cup 2026 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 2 against Qatar, Kuwait, and winners of the Round 1 match between Afghanistan and Mongolia, after the draw was conducted at the AFC House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Thursday, July 27, 2023.

Beginning from Pot 2 of the Qualifiers, India, who are placed 99th in the FIFA Rankings, will face Qatar (59th), Kuwait (137th), and the winners of the match between Afghanistan (157th), Mongolia (183rd) in a double round-robin format on a home-and-away basis.

The teams that finish in the top two positions in the qualification group will enter Round 3 of the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers and enter directly into the AFC Asian Cup 2027.

India have been in hot form in 2023, going on an 11-match unbeaten streak, spanning the Tri-Nation Cup, the Intercontinental Cup, and the SAFF Championship. During the course of this treble-winning run, India have played Kuwait twice in the SAFF Championship, with both matches, in the group stage and the final, ending 1-1. However, earlier this month, the Blue Tigers successfully converted the penalty shootout in the SAFF Final into a ninth sub-continental title in Bengaluru.

Igor Stimac’s men had also been clubbed alongside Qatar in the previous edition of the World Cup Qualifiers, where they produced a couple of inspiring performances against the defending AFC Asian Cup Champions in Doha – earning a 0-0 draw before losing 0-1.

Afghanistan and Mongolia, who are set to face each other in the Round 1 Qualifiers, have also played against India in recent times. The former were clubbed in Group D of the AFC Asian Cup Qualifiers, which were played in Kolkata last year; India won the match 2-1.

Meanwhile, Mongolia faced India in the Intercontinental Cup in Bhubaneswar earlier this year, with the Blue Tigers emerging 2-0 winners.

Group A: Qatar, India, Kuwait, WP1 (Afghanistan/Mongolia).

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