The India Men’s Football team has started their campaign of the FIFA World Cup 2026 Asian 2026 qualifier with a win over Kuwait. In the match, the Blue Tigers and the Kuwait remained goalless in the first half. With only 15 left in the game, Manvir Singh scored what turned out to be a match-winning score.
From the home team, Faizal Zaid Al-Harbi was sent off the field during the injury time in the second half. The 102nd ranked India had a chance of scoring in the 18th minute if not for Sahal Abdul Samad being tackled. A few seconds later, Nikhil Poojary passed towards the India skipper Sunil Chhetri but the latter failed to convert.
Nine minutes later, Mahesh Naorem created an opportunity but Akash Mishra failed to make the most of it. In the defense department, Sandesh Jhingan led the resilient defense in the entire game. Even though the home side, Kuwait attacked in the last few minutes, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu stopped them.
A few months back, in the SAFF Championship 2023 final, both teams played against each other. In the regular time, the game ended 1-1. In the penalty shootout, the Blue Brigade won by 5-4. They will play next against Qatar who played their maiden FIFA World Cup 2022 on November 21, in the second Group A match at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
The Indian football team is placed alongside Asian champions Qatar, Kuwait and Afghanistan in Group A. The four teams will play each other in the home and away round-robin format.
The top two teams in the group will make the FIFA World Cup 2026 AFC qualifiers third round while also earning a direct entry into the 2027 AFC Asian Cup.