• Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

An irregular goal did us in, rues Igor Stimac after Qatar defeat

India’s dream to make the 2026 FIFA World Cup came crashing down to a heart-breaking end in Doha on Tuesday night, June 11, 2024.
A 1-2 defeat at the home of the two-time Asian champions would never have been anything to be ashamed of, but when there are some harsh and unfortunate moments, and narrow margins, especially in a match involving the highest of stakes, it leaves everyone around truly disappointed.
However, keeping all the drama behind for a moment, India head coach Igor Stimac began his post-match press conference on a positive note.
“I would say that there is nothing to complain about my boys’ display today. They were fantastic. All Indian fans can be proud of their team today. We controlled the game for a major part, with a high press against a good Qatari team. You could say that the chances India had were better than Qatar’s.”
Apart from the baffling Qatari equaliser, the Croatian also highlighted a few Indian shortcomings, particularly in the final third. “We should have scored thrice in the first half to kill the game definitely,” he prompted.
“But there is something which is missing in Indian football, and that’s clinical reactions inside the box.
“Qatar were lucky tonight, especially because they came back from 0-1 with an irregular goal. I can confirm that now because I have seen the replay. The whole ball was out of play and the goal was given. It shouldn’t be happening in today’s football because that goal changed everything in this game. It could’ve happened to Qatar today and I would say the same. I’m not looking for an excuse. I feel sad that when you have 23 boys working really hard and living the dream, to achieve something, and that dream is killed because we didn’t stop such things from happening,” said Stimac.
That equaliser by Yousef Aymen in the 73rd minute took the wind out of India’s sails, totally turning the momentum in the hosts’ favour, who completed the comeback in the 85th minute with a brilliant Ahmed Al-Rawi long-ranger that Gurpreet Singh Sandhu couldn’t have done much about.
A victory would’ve more than sufficed for the Blue Tigers to create history, with a place in the third round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for the first time, alongside direct qualification for the 2027 AFC Asian Cup. Now, India’s bid to make the continental tournament for the third successive time will take them to the Asian Cup Qualifiers Third Round, which is scheduled to begin in March 2025.
“It’s kind of an injustice to my boys tonight because we were very close to winning this game and qualifying for the third round, but it didn’t happen. Congratulations to the Qatari team. I would say that both countries can be proud of their future because all the players showed enormous quality today. They played open football and it was obvious that both teams enjoyed the game. Many people will say that Qatar played with their reserve team. But our team is also not too old compared to Qatar,” added Stimac.

Source: AIFF

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