Blatant Cheating: Qatar Robs India of World Cup Qualifying Spot

India suffered a rather cruel 2-1 defeat to Qatar in their FIFA World Cup Qualifiers clash on June 11 in Doha, specifically on top of some massive errors by the match referees. After Lallianzuala Chhangte gave India an ecstatic lead in the 37th minute of the game, Qatar, the Asian Champions, walked into the tunnel trailing for the first time in this competition. However, the second half saw Yousef Aymen equalise for his side in the 73rd minute in the most unruly and bizarre fashion. The ball, which ultimately led to Aymen’s goal, had clearly travelled outside the line before being rolled into the net, which visibly left the likes of India goalkeeper and skipper Gurpreet Singh fuming.

Even in the second-half of the game, there were numerous clear-cut decisions that went against India’s favour, and very confusingly so. The multiple wrong decisions from on-field referee Kim Woo-Sung, along with linesmen Kang Dong Ho and Cheon Jin Hee could easily be blamed by Indian football fans for ruining the tempo of Stimac’s side. With no Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system applicable for the second Round of FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, the goal went on to stand legal, irrespective of the vivid, animated and justified protest from the Indian players.

Despite India’s defence being on top form throughout the first half, the utterly disappointing nature of the equaliser saw the entire structure break down. This ultimately led to another 85th minute goal by Qatar’s Ahmed Ali-Rawi, which sealed the win for the home side. While officiating a match of this high-calibre, such mistakes are the least expected from FIFA licenced referees.

Referee Kim Woo-Sung, followed this mistake with more confusing calls that included a late Rahul Bheke yellow-card where the India centre-back was not even the one who made the tackle, and even a penalty appeal which was completely overlooked. There are still no confirmation of whether the All India Football Federation (AIFF) President, Kalyan Chaubey is going to lodge a complaint or protests regarding these decisions, but the frustration amongst Indiam football fans have already reached sky-high.

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