India Held to Draw by Afghanistan in World Cup Qualifier

India Held to Draw by Afghanistan in World Cup Qualifier

Afghanistan’s resilience and India’s attacking deficiencies played out in a stalemate as the two teams drew 0-0 in their 2026 World Cup qualifier on Friday. Despite a significant gap in FIFA rankings, Afghanistan held their ground against India, who remain winless in 2023.

India, ranked 106th, controlled possession but struggled to penetrate Afghanistan’s defense. Their crosses were ineffective, and their midfield lacked control. Afghanistan, ranked 158th, defended resolutely and created a few half-chances of their own.

The first half was a scrappy affair, with both teams feeling aggrieved by penalty decisions that went against them. India’s best chance came from Manvir Singh, who flicked a shot wide after being found by Lallianzuala Chhangte.

After the break, India continued to press but lacked the finesse to break down Afghanistan’s defense. Brandon Fernandes and Subhasish Bose were introduced as substitutes, but their impact was minimal.

India’s best opportunity came in the 80th minute from a corner-kick, but Bose headed wide. The result leaves India in second place in Group A with four points, behind leaders Qatar. Afghanistan remain bottom of the group with one point.

The return fixture in Guwahati on Tuesday will be crucial for both teams. India need a win to keep their hopes of reaching the third round of World Cup qualifying alive. Afghanistan, meanwhile, will be aiming to upset the odds and secure their first victory of the campaign.