Team India registered a 1-0 win over Kuwait on the road as they opened Round 2 of the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualification and AFC Asian Cup qualification on the right foot.
Despite having done well in the past year at home, the Blue Tigers’ record away from home has been poor having lost all three of their outings on foreign soil since the beginning of the year. However, they altered the books with a hard-fought win against Kuwait on Thursday.
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“We’re not surprised with the result but we always respect the opponents. I’m very confident about our team and our capacities. We came here to win the game. I have full trust in my boys. They’ve worked hard in the last four and a half year,” said head coach Igor Stimac following the win.
Stimac also acknowledged the support the India team received at the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium as his side stuck together and picked up the win.
“Kuwait have many technically skilful individual players, but they couldn’t do it today. We were very patient and we knew that they were under pressure. We also had great support from the stands like we’re playing at home,” said Stimac.
“By winning here, we have a greater chance of getting the second spot in the group. We wanted Kuwait to become nervous and impatient and start putting long balls,” the 56-year-old elaborated on his plans.
The Blue Tigers picked up the win thanks to the lone strike from Manvir Singh, who connected sweetly from a Lallianzuala Chhangte cross into the box.
“I’m really happy that I got the goal against Kuwait, but I must thank my teammates for it. It’s all because of everyone’s hard work,” Manvir said.
“I am lucky to score in a big match like this. Looking forward to scoring more in the coming matches,” the 28-year-old added.
It was a crucial game considering the importance of the fixture and defensive stalwart Sandesh Jhingan opined that he took ride in the fact that the side stepped up its game when it mattered the most during such an important encounter.
“The weight of the tournament makes a difference. We gave a good account of ourselves in the King’s Cup in Thailand. The Merdeka Tournament in Malaysia was, we can say, a one-off day after a long time. Of course, we were disappointed to lose there, but those games are to learn lessons. The whole point of friendlies is to learn from them to prepare for big games like these,” said the defender.
“It was very important to start on a winning note. I’m proud of the team and how we stepped up to the occasion. Kuwait are always a difficult side, and more so when you’re playing away. We put on a strong and mature performance, but we cannot celebrate too much, get carried away, or think too big of ourselves,” said Jhingan.
India welcomes World Cup 2022 hosts and AFC Asian Cup holders Qatar on the 21st of November at the Kalinga Stadium in Odisha in their next fixture.
“We have another game in a few days, so it’s all about recovery. We just have to keep going. It’s just the first game. Let’s keep getting better, dreaming big, and make the work bigger than your team,” Jhingan concluded.