Kuwait City [Kuwait]: The Indian senior men's football side started off its FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers second round campaign with a 1-0 win over Kuwait in Kuwait City on Thursday.
Indian winger Manvir Singh (75)' scored the lone goal of the match and got his name on scoresheet. Faizal Zaid Al-Harbi of Kuwait was sent off in the stoppage time during the second half, as per Olympics.com.
The 102nd ranked side India was restricted to its own half early on as Kuwait dominated the ball possession, but Indian midfielders improved as game went on, making some chances for the strikers.
Sahal Abdul Samad had the first chance of scoring for India but before he could shoot, he was closed down inside the box. Seconds later, a cross by Nikhil Poojary went to Sunil Chhetri, but the shot flew over the crossbar.
Mahesh Naorem made another shooting opportunity in 27th minute with a freekick but Akash Mishra failed to take the ball to the target. Hosts also failed to convert a long range effort during the final moments of first half.
The Indian defence was pretty solid in the first half, well led by Sandesh Jhingan and they did not allow Kuwait strikers to make inroads into the goal.
Kuwait played the second half with greater endeavour but despite consistency in effort, they lacked in precision.
Suresh Singh's promising attempt at goal flew off the target in 71st minute but four minutes later, Manvir ended the deadlock, receiving a cross by Lallianzuala Chhangte and smashing a half volley into the nets.
Kuwait upped the attack in final moments of the match but the goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sidhu and defenders kept the goal guarded well.
This is India's second win over Kuwait, after beating them by 5-4 via penalties following 1-1 draw at SAFF Championship final in July.
India's next clash is against World number 61 Qatar on November 21 in their second group A match. Group A also features Afghanistan. These four teams will play each other in home-aeay round-robin format.
The top two finishers in the group will make it the FIFA World Cup 2026 AFC qualifiers third round while also earning a direct spot into the 2027 AFC Asian Cup.