“A mistake like this kills the morale of any team” – Pritam Kotal of Qatar’s (outside) goal

Jules Alberto and Pritam Kotal on Qatar's Controversial goal vs India
Jules Alberto and Pritam Kotal on Qatar’s Controversial Goal vs India (PC: X)

Team India fans are still in disbelief that a controversial goal from Qatar put an end to their dream of making it to the third round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for the first time in their history. The ball clearly looked to be out of play before it was dragged back and put into the goal by Qatar’s players in the 73rd minute. The Indian players protested but the referee and linesman stood by their decision, and the goal stood.

Regarding that controversial call, we reached out to Pritam Kotal, current Kerala Blasters and Team India defender, and Jules Alberto, a former India international, for their views. In the 2001 FIFA World Cup Qualifier against UAE, it was Alberto who scored the only goal as the Blue Tigers won the game 1-0.

When he was asked about last night’s controversial decision, Alberto said: “Absolutely shocking decision by the referee. It killed a great opportunity for Team India to qualify into the next round. Even more embarrassing was that there was no VAR in such crucial games by FIFA.”

Kotal is currently out of the Indian side, but working hard ahead of the next season. He was in complete shock to see no VAR in a crucial tie like this, where teams’ chances of going forward on the World Cup qualification journey are at stake.

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Team India vs Qatar
Team India vs Qatar (PC: AIFF)

“I was watching the match on TV,” he told RevSportz. “So, the picture is not that much clear to me. But whatever I have seen so far, I think the ball was out. The referee should have taken the decision with more clarity. This was a big match, a FIFA World Cup qualifier game. A mistake like this in such a game kills the morale of any team. Especially the way we started the game, controlled, and completely dominated Qatar in the first half. After 65 minutes, we kind of lost the momentum but then, this controversial decision came and ruined the game completely. The referee should have taken more time before making a final call.”

“I think VAR should have been there. In the Asian Cup, there was VAR, but a FIFA World Cup qualifier without VAR, how is that possible? VAR is very important. In ISL, there is a lot of talk regarding refereeing but now, we can see that even on a stage like FIFA World Cup qualifying, these types of mistakes happen. So, VAR should have been there and if it was there, India might have won or drawn that match for sure.”

“Overall, I think, India played well,” added Kotal. “After Sunil Bhai’s retirement from international duty, we played well and did well. We were bit unlucky. If we continue like this, good days are coming. Jay (Gupta) was very good, and he is a very good guy. Both in defence and attack, he is good and he took some shots also at the goal. Overall, he is a talented player. [Lallianzuala] Chhangte was doing well and Jeakson also played superbly, controlled the midfield. Probably, we badly missed Apuia, and if both Apuia and Jeakson were there in the middle, we could have dominated more.”

“From my side, all I want to say that it is a heartbreaking situation for all of us as Indian players and fans. But we have to move on and look forward. A lot of work needs to be done, and I hope for the best, both as a team and as an individual.”

Also Read: Geoff Hurst at Wembley, the Hand of God and Ghost Goals – refereeing controversies down the years