In a thrilling encounter at Bengaluru’s Sree Kanteerava Stadium, India and Kuwait showcased their prowess in a fiercely contested match that ended in a 1-1 draw in the final Group A clash of 2023 SAFF Championships. Indian captain Sunil Chhetri‘s well-taken goal in the first half was later nullified by Anwar Ali’s unfortunate own goal in stoppage time, resulting in India finishing second to Kuwait in Group A, based on goals scored.
Indian head coach Igor Stimac, back in the technical area after his suspension, witnessed an early chance as Mahesh Singh and Akash Mishra combined brilliantly on the left flank, but Chhetri narrowly missed the opportunity. Both teams had their moments, with Kuwait coming close to scoring in the 24th minute, only to be denied by Indian goalkeeper Amrinder Singh.
Chhetri, the Indian captain, displayed his class by netting his 92nd international goal with an outstanding volley in the first minute of extra time, giving India the lead. However, the second half saw both teams engaged in energetic play, with India unable to convert their chances. Kuwait managed to equalize after Ali’s own goal, leading to a hard-fought draw.
The match wasn’t short of drama, as Stimac received a yellow card for his animated involvement from the technical area, and later a red card for the second time in the tournament. With Rahim Ali and Hamad Alqallaf also seeing red, both teams played the final moments with ten men.
The result leaves both India and Kuwait eager to showcase their skills further in the upcoming stages of the 2023 SAFF Championships.
India XI: Amrinder Singh (GK), Nikhil Poojary, Sandesh Jhingan, Anwar Ali, Akash Mishra, Jeakson Singh Thounaojam, Anirudh Thapa (Rohit Kumar 61′), Ashique Kuruniyan (Sahal Abdul Samad 61′), Naorem Mahesh Singh, Sunil Chhetri (C) (Rahim Ali 81′), Lallianzuala Chhangte (Udanta Singh 81′).