India currently have a strong chance of reaching the Round 2 of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, something that they have never achieved in their history.

Igor Stimac, Indian men’s football team coach, on Thursday announced a list of 35 probables for the upcoming 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers against Afghanistan. India are scheduled to play Afghanistan on 21 and 26 March, at Abha in Saudi Arabia and Guwahati respectively. The Afghanistan matches will be part of the Round 2 of the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 Preliminary Joint Qualification and India currently have a strong chance of reaching the Round 2 of the qualifiers, something that they have never achieved in their history.

India began their campaign in the Round 2 of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers with an away win against Kuwait. Manvir Singh scored the only goal of the match as
India won the match 1-0
before suffering a
3-0 defeat to Asian champions Qatar
in their second game, at home.

Currently India are in the third place with three points and one win from two matches. Qatar lead the table with six points and two wins, while Kuwait are second with one win as well. Afghanistan are last and have lost both their games so far, one against Qatar and another to Kuwait.

Here’s what India need to reach Round 3

The away win against Kuwait has put Igor Stimac’s Blue Tigers in a strong position and the 117th side in FIFA rankings will be hoping for two wins against Afghanistan (FIFA rank: 158). Two wins will help India reach nine points and considering that table-toppers Qatar will be playing their next two matches against Kuwait and are expected to win both, India could jump to second position.

In such a scenario, Qatar will lead with 12 points, while India will be second with nine points. Kuwait will be third with three points and pointless Afghanistan will be last.

Two wins against Afghanistan will sort of guarantee the second spot for India, which is needed to qualify for the Round 3 of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. The nine group winners and group runners-up will reach the third round.

One needs to remember that just two more wins won’t be enough but it would create a scenario where Kuwait would not be able to go beyond nine points considering they lose their matches to Qatar. If Kuwait manage to beat India and Afghanistan in their last two matches even then they can reach only nine points and it will then come down to goal difference.

India’s list of 35 probables:

Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Amrinder Singh, Phurba Tempa Lachenpa, Vishal Kaith.

Defenders: Akash Mishra, Lalchungnunga, Mehtab Singh, Pritam Kotal, Rahul Bheke, Nikhil Chandrashekhar Poojary, Subhasish Bose, Narender, Anwar Ali, Roshan Singh Naorem, Amey Ganesh Ranawade, Jay Gupta.

Midfielders: Anirudh Thapa, Brandon Fernandes, Liston Colaco, Mahesh Singh Naorem, Sahal Abdul Samad, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Jeakson Singh Thounaojam, Deepak Tangri, Lalthathanga Khawlhring, Lalengmawia Ralte, Imran Khan.

Forwards: Sunil Chhetri, Ishan Pandita, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Manvir Singh, Vikram Partap Singh, Rahul Kannoly Praveen, Nandhakumar Sekar, Isak Vanlalruatfela.


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