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Kuwait City, November 17: Manvir Singh’s left-footed strike in the 75th minute got off to a winning start for India in Round 2 of the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 joint qualification campaign. The only goal ensured victory against hosts Kuwait at the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait City on Thursday.
The match continued peacefully until Manvir Singh changed the dynamics of the game. Despite the artificial lights illuminating the huge stadium, Manvir’s talent overshadowed everyone else. Perfectly positioned in the opponent’s box, he connected with Lalianzuala Chhangte’s cross from the left, delivering an accurate and powerful left-footed shot that eluded Kuwait’s goalkeeper, Abdul Rahman Marzouq.
— Indian Football Team (@IndianFootball) November 16, 2023
The next challenge for India is to face strong Qatar in Bhubaneswar. However, the significance of Thursday’s win cannot be underestimated. While getting a win over Kuwait on their home ground is a commendable achievement, the hosts have been left disappointed. The situation worsened for Kuwait in injury time when substitute Faisal Alharbi received his second yellow card, leading to his expulsion by the Australian referee.
Manvir Singh’s goal proved decisive as India secured three crucial points, a potential game-changer in their quest to progress to the next round of the World Cup campaign, a historic achievement in Indian football.
The credit for this also goes to India’s head coach Igor Stimac, whose strategic decisions played an important role. The choice to keep Changte on the bench until the 64th minute proved to be a masterstroke, as his fresh feet and well-executed crosses contributed significantly to India’s success.
The dream is alive for the Blue Tigers. 🇮🇳
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) November 16, 2023
Compared to their previous encounters at the SAFF Championship, where India won in a tie-breaker, this win on Kuwait’s home turf within the regulation period demonstrated India’s dominance. While India demonstrated initiative in its attacks, Kuwait struggled to make a dent in the Indian defence. Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu had a relatively up-and-down day as he faced mostly harmless attacks.
Despite limited opportunities, India displayed enterprise with notable contributions from Nikhil Pujari and Manvir Singh. Apart from Manvir’s decisive strike, the best chance of the match came in the first half when captain Sunil Chhetri’s powerful volley went over the bar. Overall, India’s performance in Kuwait underlined their growing strength in international football.