India's World Cup Hopes Dented by Afghanistan Defeat

India's World Cup Hopes Dented by Afghanistan Defeat

India's hopes of advancing to the third round of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers suffered a significant setback as they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat against Afghanistan in a Group A match at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in Guwahati.

Sunil Chhetri, India's all-time leading scorer, gave the hosts an early lead in the 36th minute with a penalty, marking his 94th international goal in his 150th appearance for the country. However, Afghanistan regrouped in the second half and turned the tables on India.

Rahmat Akbari equalized for Afghanistan in the 70th minute with a powerful drive, and Sharif Mukhammad converted a penalty in the 88th minute to seal the victory for the visitors.

India's defensive approach in the second half proved costly as Afghanistan exploited gaps in the Indian defense with their high-press tactics. The Afghans' physical play also posed a challenge for India, who struggled to find a solution.

Despite the defeat, India remains in contention for a third-round berth, but they will need to win their next match against Kuwait on June 6.

Tags: #WorldCupQualifiers, #India, #Afghanistan, #SunilChhetri, #Football

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