FIFA World Cup 2026 AFC Qualifiers Schedule

The Indian men’s football team is gearing up for a challenging expedition in the second round of the FIFA World Cup 2026 AFC qualifiers. Placed in Group A alongside football powerhouses Qatar, Kuwait, and Afghanistan, the team faces a demanding path to secure a spot in the third qualifying round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup in North America.

FIFA World Cup 2026 AFC Qualifiers Schedule

Indian Football Team’s Second Round Matches

As the Indian football team embarks on their journey, fans eagerly await a series of thrilling matches that will test their skills and determination. Led by captain Sunil Chhetri, India faces formidable opponents in Group A, including Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Asian champions Qatar. Below is a glimpse of the upcoming fixtures:

DateMatchTimeVenue
November 16Kuwait vs India10:00 PMJaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium, Kuwait City
November 21India vs Qatar7:00 PMKalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar
March 21Afghanistan vs IndiaTBDTBD
March 26India vs AfghanistanTBDIndira Gandhi Athletic Stadium, Guwahati
June 6India vs KuwaitTBDTBD
June 11Qatar vs IndiaTBDTBD

Group Composition and Qualification Stakes

The 36 teams in the second round are divided into nine groups of four, with the top two from each group advancing to the next stage. For India, securing a top-two finish in Group A means progression in the World Cup qualifiers and a direct entry into the 2027 AFC Asian Cup in Saudi Arabia.

Fixture Highlights

India, ranked 102nd in FIFA rankings, opens its campaign with an away match against Kuwait on Thursday. Led by Sunil Chhetri, the team faces Afghanistan twice in March, Qatar on June 11, and a highly anticipated showdown with the top-seeded Qatar on November 21 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.

Indian Football Squad

Goalkeepers

  • Amrinder Singh
  • Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
  • Vishal Kaith

Defenders

  • Akash Mishra
  • Lalchungnunga
  • Mehtab Singh
  • Nikhil Poojary
  • Rahul Bheke
  • Roshan Singh Naorem
  • Sandesh Jhingan
  • Subhasish Bose

Midfielders

  • Anirudh Thapa
  • Brandon Fernandes
  • Lalengmawia
  • Liston Colaco
  • Mahesh Singh Naorem
  • Rohit Kumar
  • Sahal Abdul Samad
  • Suresh Singh Wangjam
  • Udanta Singh Kumam

Forwards

  • Ishan Pandita
  • Lallianzuala Chhangte
  • Manvir Singh
  • Rahul KP
  • Sunil Chhetri

Historical Perspective

While the Indian men’s football team has made strides, including participation in four Olympic Games and four AFC Asian Cups, qualifying for the FIFA World Cup main draw remains a dream. India’s best performance in the AFC Asian Cup came in 1964 when they finished as runners-up.

Broadcast Information

Football enthusiasts across India can catch all the action from India’s FIFA World Cup 2026 AFC qualifiers matches through live streaming and telecast. Stay tuned as the nation rallies behind its football heroes in this quest for global recognition.

Head-to-Head Record

In the FIFA rankings, Qatar holds the 61st position and was a participant in the 2022 World Cup. Their standing as the sixth-best team in Asia reflects their prowess. The encounters between Qatar and India, totaling three games, all took place in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers. In these matches, India has experienced defeat in two instances and secured a draw in one against the Qataris.

FIFA World Cup 2026 AFC Qualifiers Format

The qualification format underwent a redesign, featuring eight direct qualifiers and one play-off qualifier. The journey includes multiple rounds, from the first round to the fifth round, with tiebreakers outlined in Regulations Article 11.5.

FIFA World Cup 2026 AFC Qualifiers Draw

The draw for the initial and subsequent rounds took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on July 27, 2023. The top 26 ranked teams received byes to the second round, creating pairings in a systematic drawing process.

FIFA World Cup 2026 AFC Qualifiers Slot Allocation

The FIFA Council endorsed the slot allocation on May 9, 2017, ensuring a guaranteed spot for the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) in the tournament. This marks the first time in FIFA World Cup history that all six confederations are guaranteed at least one berth in the final competition.

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