India are set to begin their FIFA World Cup qualification for the 2022 edition of the global football event which will be held in Qatar.
The Blue Tigers ranked 103 by FIFA, will be looking to target only their second entry into the finals of the FIFA World Cup, having withdrawn the first time they qualified in 1950. The challenge has been undertaken by newly-appointed head coach and Stephen Constantine's successor Igor Stimac and leading the charge on the field will be a talented and young bunch of footballers clad in blue.
Since April 2001, India have won six out of the 26 qualifiers they played. Those victories came against UAE (home), Brunei (home and away), Singapore (home), Nepal (home) and most recently at home against Guam in 2015.
One of India's better outings at the World Cup qualification stage came 17 years ago, ahead of the 2002 World Cup hosted by Japan and South Korea. The Blues recorded three wins from their six group games in the first round of qualifiers in Group 8 alongside UAE, Yemen and Brunei. Stephen Constantine's team scored 11 goals and conceded just five but lost out a place in the next stage to Yemen on goal difference.
|October 8, 2015||Turkmenistan||Kopetdag Stadium||2-1||Loss|
|October 13, 2015||Oman||Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex||3-0||Loss|
|November 12, 2015||Guam||Kanteerava Stadium Bengaluru||1-0||Win|
|March 24, 2016||Iran||Azadi Stadium||4-0||Loss|
|March 29, 2016||Turkmenistan||JLN Kochi Stadium||1-2||Loss|
With just two wins in the qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup, India's recent outings have been sub-par and they will have to step up their efforts to earn tickets to Qatar. After a Sunil Chhetri brace helped India win 2-0 against Nepal on home soil and a draw against them away from home, a slew of defeats followed during their 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
After five back-to-back defeats, India picked up a 1-0 win courtesy of a Robin Singh strike and that result remains the team's last win in the competition. In a group consisting of Iran, Oman, Turkmenistan and Guam, India lost seven games and picked up just one win to end a forgettable campaign.
India's last outing was a 1-2 loss to Turkmenistan at home. Sandesh Jhingan scored the opener in the 27th minute but the lead was cancelled by Arslanmyrat Amanov soon after the break before Serdaraly Atayew sealed the tie in Turksmenistan's favour in the 70th minute.