FIFA World Cup 2026/AFC Asian Cup 2027: India v Kuwait, Afghanistan v Qatar!

Group A of the Preliminary Joint Qualification – Round 2 for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 is set for an exciting finish with India, Afghanistan and Kuwait all in the running for a spot in the next stage.

Qatar are assured of finishing top, which means confirmed berths in the third round of FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifying and the AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 Finals.

India and Afghanistan are on four points, with Kuwait one adrift heading into Thursday’s round of matches.

India v Kuwait

Both sides will be equally determined to take maximum points when they face off at the Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium in Kolkata.

India edged the reverse fixture 1-0 back in November and Igor Stimac’s side will be confident of another three points in what will be talismanic captain Sunil Chhetri’s final international match.

Head coach Igor Stimac has described the tie as the most important match for India in three decades.

“India never could achieve the third round in the World Cup Qualifiers. Having the very opportunity to be in that position is an achievement by itself,” Stimac said to Indian media.

“Reaching there (Round 3) will be another step in Indian football history. It will be an amazing thing to have the opportunity to play another 10 games against the best Asian teams and dream big about trying to reach the biggest stage of football.”

Kuwait, however, will do their best to derail India’s dream with the West Asian side’s fate still very much in their own hands.

With Afghanistan their opponents on Matchday Six, wins for Kuwait in their concluding matches will see them finishing second behind Qatar.

Afghanistan v Qatar

It will be a new-look Qatar squad that takes to the pitch against Afghanistan with the two-time AFC Asian Cup champions opting to rest several key players for their concluding matches.

Akram Afif and Almoez Ali will be among the absentees as head coach Marquez Lopez looks to expose younger players ahead of their third round challenge in the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers.

This may just provide Afghanistan with the opportunity to get the win they need to boost their hopes of advancing past the second round.

Head coach Ashley Westwood will urge his players to believe in themselves in their bid to create history by advancing to the third round of the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers and sealing a maiden appearance at the AFC Asian Cup.

MATCHES

India v Kuwait
Venue: Vivekananda Yuba Bharati Krirangan Stadium (Kolkata)
Kick-off: 19:00 (UTC+5:30)

Afghanistan v Qatar
Venue: Prince Abdullah Bin Jalawi Stadium (Al-Hasa)
Kick-off: 19:00 (UTC+3)

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