Kuwait ends their group stage campaign as table toppers after a heated 1-1 draw against India

India and Kuwait played a 1-1 draw at Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Tuesday

India‘s contest against Kuwait at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium ended in a heated draw. The Blue Tigers initially grasped the lead in the first half. However, in the dying minutes of the match, the visitors managed to equalize. However, Igor Stimac got his second red card in a single week. 

Amrinder Singh started the match for the Blue Tigers in the net while Anwar Ali, Sandesh Jhingan, Akash Mishra, and Nikhil Poojary were the chosen defenders by Igor Stimac. In midfield, Anirudh Thapa and Lallianzuala Chhangte were given the attacking duties as Jeakson Singh was responsible to support the structure. Sunil Chettri, Mahesh Singh, and Ashique Kuruniyan started the match as India’s preferred attacking trio. 

On the flip side, Kuwait met with a couple of changes as Rui Bento decided to play with an extra defender. Thus, the visitor’s starting line-up was Abdulrahman Marzouq, Ahmad Aldhefeery, Hasan Alanezi, Sultan Alenezi, Mohammad Abdullah, Shabaib Alkhaldi, Eid Alrashidi, Hamad Alharbi, Abdullah Alfahad, Redha Abujabarah, and Hamad Alqallaf. 

The match got underway with India having possession. As Anirudh Thapa got the match started, the Blue Tigers were quickly dispossessed as Hamad Alqallaf tried giving his side an early lead, however, Akash Mishra didn’t let him capitalize. The Visitors managed to get a dominant start as the first lethal chance to score in the match was seen by Al Rashidi in the 4th minute.

On the other hand, India proved that they were not behind in the match after Mahesh Singh, with the help of a forward run made a brilliant cross for Sunil Chettri in the 6th minute. However, the skipper failed to connect with the cross.

Following the similar momentum, after a couple of minutes, the Blue Tigers started pressing by calling their full-backs forward. In the 10th minute, the strategy worked wonders as Mahesh managed to find Anwar Ali in his corner, nevertheless, the defender failed to get par. 

Kuwait was trying their best to keep the possession, and as a result, the first booking of the night was India’s aggressive defender, Sandesh Jhingan in the 16th minute. Irrespective of all the attempts made by the visitors to somehow break the momentum of Igor Stimac’s side, Mahesh Singh, Anirudh Thapa, and Sunil Chettri were in their lane, unbothered. 

However, a not-so-decent challenge from the Indian central forward, Mahesh, eventually ended up becoming a dangerous counterattack by the visitors in the 25th minute. Luckily, the shot went a little wide from the goal. In the 31st minute, Chhangte got a free kick from a decent place but it also went over the head. 

Consequently, when it seemed like Kuwait was taking charge of the match, Stimac signalled his side to commit forward runs. Thus, with the help of a well-balanced cross by Akash, Mahesh was so close to breaking the deadlock in the 35th minute but it was also off target. 

Sunil Chettri scored his 92nd international goal for India against Kuwait

While collecting the ball, Kuwait’s Marzouq looked in visible pain. However, he kept on playing despite nip and tuck. However, in the first half that looked equal on both sides, Sunil Chettri managed to make a difference after he smashed Thapa’s corner straight into the net. The celebration started in the blue camp as the halftime whistle was also blown. 

The box-to-box action of the first half flamed a lot of expectations in the minds of the spectators. Consequently, the second half of the match got underway with Kuwait being in possession. The visitors made it very clear from the first minute that they wanted the win the match by hook or by crook. 

In the 48th minute, Al Faneeni got into a dispute with Mahesh Singh while just a couple of minutes later, Al Rashidi also got into a brawl with Mishra. Thus, with the help of a well-balanced defensive display, Anwar Ali managed to find Ashique with ping, followed by a cross from the second striker to put them in front of the goal. But eventually, just like every time, Ashique Kuruniyan failed to hit it on the spot. 

As the clock started ticking forward, Kuwait’s desperation for a goal started becoming evident. Just like the first half, the second half was also full of end-to-end play. Interestingly, in the 62nd minute, India’s head coach again got booked after Alqallaf pushed Mahesh down. Stimac pulled the ball out of the play asking for action to be taken against the visitors. However, he ended up getting booked instead. Kuwait’s Alenezi also got booked after he slammed an unnecessary challenge on newly subbed Sahal Abdul Samad. 

Samad joined Chettri in the attack, however, they failed to double the lead after a set of great one-to-ones. After the attack made in the 71st minute, the Blue Tigers got into a compact formation acquiring defensive tactics. Realizing India’s changed tactics, Kuwait started committing its men forward. 

However, the Indian fans at Kanteerava were left shocked after Igor Stimac received his second red card in the SAFF Cup. The card was shown after the referees were visibly agitated by the head coach’s complaints. 

In the 82nd minute, Sunil Chettri alongside Lallianzuala Chhangte was subbed out for Udanta Singh and Rahim Ali. With Stimic going off, freshly subbed Rahim Ali was also sent off alongside Al Qallaf following a heated altercation between the pair.

Moments after the red card fest, Albloushi took a cross that found Indian defender Anwar Ali and went into the net as an own goal in the 90th minute. In the seven minutes of added time, Nikhil Poojary and Udanta Singh tried cooking on the right flank, however, it was too late as the match found its conclusion with scores levelled. 

Consequently, Kuwait will end the group stage as the table toppers and they’ll lock horns against Maldives or Bangladesh. On the other hand, India will square off against Lebanon for the third time in two weeks.