In Thursday's draw at the AFC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, India was grouped with Qatar, Kuwait, and the winner of Afghanistan or Mongolia in the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers and the AFC Asian Cup qualifiers for 2027.

Qatar, Kuwait, Afghanistan and Mongolia are also pooled together, as well as 2022 hosts Qatar and 2023 SAFF Championships runners-up Kuwait.

The team's recent results have given India's goal of reaching the World Cup a boost, which they will try to take into the Asian Cup as well as the World Cup 2026 qualifiers.


This year, India has been in spectacular form, winning the Intercontinental Cup and the SAFF Championship without losing a game.

In the final of the Intercontinental Cup, Sunil Chhetri and co. defeated Lebanon 2-0 to win the prestigious title.

Following their Intercontinental Cup victory, the Igor Stimac-coached squad won the SAFF Championship in the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru, where they defeated Kuwait on penalties in the final.

The country's outstanding results earned it a place in the top 100 of the FIFA World Rankings.

The Blue Tigers were also handed a boost when the sports ministry decided to loosen its criteria that a team must be ranked among the top eight on the continent to play in the Asian Games 2023.

The Indian men's and women's teams were granted permission to play in the continental event by the sports ministry after a lengthy wait and uncertainty, owing to their recent outstanding achievements.