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FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: Kuwait win big against Afghanistan

Published at :November 23, 2023 at 6:15 PM
Modified at :January 14, 2024 at 1:14 AM
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(Courtesy : AFC Media)

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This was Afghanistan’s second big loss in a row.

A strong second half display saw Kuwait march to a 4-0 win over Afghanistan in Group A of the Preliminary Joint Qualification – Round 2 for the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 at the Al Ettifaq Club Stadium on Tuesday.

Three points on Matchday Two take Kuwait up to second in Group A, three points adrift of leaders Qatar. 

Both sides were in pursuit of their first points of the campaign, with Kuwait having been beaten at home by India 1-0, while Afghanistan were defeated 8-1 by Qatar in their first match.

Kuwait needed 17 minutes to open their account in the qualifiers when Bandar Al Salama was brought down inside the box, prompting the referee to point to the spot. Shabaib Al Khaldi stepped up and coolly slotted home the opener.

Al Khaldi nearly doubled Kuwait’s tally and his own in the 27th minute when he beautifully curled a free-kick from 25 yards out, with his strike looking destined for the top corner was it not for a fine flying save from goalkeeper Ovays Azizi.

Al Salama was Kuwait’s liveliest attacking player down the right flank, driving at the opponents time and time again and nearly finding the back of the net with an effort that fizzed just around the post, having cut in from the right and hit it with his left.

Kuwait’s best chance of the first half came two minutes before the break when full-back Abdullah Ammar advanced down the right into the box and delivered a pinpoint cross for the onrushing Ahmad Al Dhefiri at the far post, but the midfielder scuffed his finish from seven yards out.

Mohammad Daham scored the pick of the goals in the 69th minute, picking up the ball on the edge of the penalty box after a poor clearance and rifling a shot that nestled into the far top corner of the Afghan goal to double Kuwait’s lead.

The 1980 Asian champions added their third ten minutes from time when substitute Eid Al Al Rashidi picked up a Daham long ball inside the box and attempted to finish with his left but was denied twice by Azizi, only for the ball to fall to Al Khaldi who made no mistake third time, hammering it in off the crossbar for 3-0.

Within just two minutes, the away side added another goal. This time, it was Athbi Saleh adding his name to the scoresheet following another Daham long pass down the right for Al Rashidi who selflessly squared for Saleh to sweep home the fourth.

With three points in the bag, Kuwait travel to nearby Qatar in March for their third match, while Afghanistan continue their search for their first point against India.

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