'Cheating' and 'robbed' trends! WATCH how game against Qatar saw India's exit from FIFA World Cup 2026 qualification race

    The shocking inability of the South Korean match officials to spot that the ball had gone out of play cost India's dreams to end.

    India vs Qatar

    India vs Qatar

    After leading the game 1-0 for most of the match, an equalizer — which turned out to be scored by 'cheating' — crushed India's hopes of advancing to the third round of FIFA World Cup 2026 qualification at the Jassim Bin Hamad Stadium at Al Sadd Club. In their final group game against Qatar, the shocking inability of the South Korean match officials to spot that the ball had gone out of play before being brought back in to score a goal cost India their chance to make it to the next round.

    Until the 73rd minute, it looked like India would be the second team to qualify from Group A as Lallianzuala Chhangte had given India the lead in the 37th minute. However, disaster struck when Jeakson Singh conceded a free-kick, and the ball had gone out of play by the time Alhashmi Mohialdin pulled it back for Youssef Aymen to stab it home. 

    What was even more disappointing was the Qatari footballers defending their act and celebrating the goal. The Indian players vehemently protested the decision, approaching the linesman in desperation, but their appeals were unsuccessful. With no VAR, the goal stood.

    Soon enough, the terms "cheating" and "robbed" trended on Indian X (formerly known as Twitter) by Indian fans, which went on to garner huge support from football fans across the globe. Even prominent huge football fanbases shared the story about how this is not Qatar's first time doing something like this.

    The India men's football team, who started the night in second place in their group, were relegated to third position after the 2-1 defeat, losing their chance to advance to Round 3 of the World Cup qualifiers. They will now proceed to the AFC Asian Cup 2027 Third Round qualification instead.

    Also, the game took place after Sunil Chhetri's recent retirement from international football—many people consider him the best football player in India. New skipper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu spoke after the game's loss.