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2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers Rival Watch: Kuwait

Published at :June 3, 2024 at 3:05 PM
Modified at :June 3, 2024 at 3:05 PM
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Atawaris Warsi

Kuwait will look to drop water on the Indian football team’s hope of second-round qualification.

The Indian Football Team is all set to play their penultimate 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Kuwait. The Blue Tigers haven’t fared up to their standards in this qualifier, as they were stunned twice by Afghanistan back in March, drawing and losing the two qualifier games they had against the Afghans.

However, Igor Stimac’s team still has a shot at qualifying for the third round, but for that, they have to defeat the notorious Kuwait side, who are deemed as surprise-makers. However, the Indian football team did defeat them in their opening clash for the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers away from home.

Now, with the legendary Sunil Chhetri announcing his retirement, the best way to honor him will be to crush this Kuwait side at home.

They are a stern side, and we at Khel Now take a look at how exactly difficult will this obstacle be for India on the 6th of June:

About the Team

Kuwait has been a part of international football since the 1960s, boasting a respectable history. They made their sole FIFA World Cup appearance in the 1982 edition, finishing 21st after securing just one draw in three matches.

Kuwait’s golden era was during the 1970s and 1980s, highlighted by their victory in the 1980 AFC Asian Cup. Additionally, they have demonstrated remarkable dominance in regional competitions, winning the Arabian Gulf Cup an impressive 10 times. Their success extends to the SAFF Championship, which they clinched in 2010, marking their most recent major trophy.

Recent Performances

Heading into this crucial fixture, Kuwait finds themselves in a precarious position, occupying the bottom spot in the group standings. The team faced setbacks, suffering defeats in three of their qualifier matches against India and twice against Qatar. Despite these challenges, Kuwait demonstrated resilience with a convincing victory over Afghanistan, securing a four-goal margin. 

Additionally, they managed to find the net against Qatar in their previous encounter, showcasing their ability to compete at this level. As they prepare to face India once again, Kuwait will be eager to capitalize on any opportunities to improve their standing in the group and keep their hopes of qualification alive.

The Coach

2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers Rival Watch: Kuwait.
Head coach Rui Bento of the Kuwait national team. (Image Source: Getty Images)

Portuguese coach Rui Bento assumed the reins of the Kuwait national team in August 2023, following a successful six-year tenure managing various Portugal youth teams.

Before his appointment with the Blue Wave, Bento notably guided Portugal’s U-17, U-18, and U-19 squads, playing a pivotal role in the development of talents like Joao Neves and Antonio Silva from Benfica.

In his tenure as Kuwait’s manager, Bento has overseen 23 official competitive matches, securing victories in 11, suffering 10 defeats, and drawing twice. Under his guidance, Kuwait has notably improved their goal-scoring capabilities. Bento favors an attacking 4-3-3 style of play, emphasizing speedy wingers and a fast-paced passing game to unsettle opponents.

Looking ahead, Bento aims to bolster Kuwait’s defensive solidity to enhance their competitiveness in World Cup qualifiers, aiming for more clean sheets and a resilient defensive structure to complement their attacking prowess.

Players to Watch

Shabab Al Khaldi

Hatta Club striker Shabaib Al-Khaldi has emerged as a standout performer within Rui Bento’s system, proving to be a formidable threat for the Kuwait national team over the past year. With 13 goals in 33 appearances, Al-Khaldi has showcased his scoring prowess and made significant contributions, particularly shining in the SAFF Championship.

His notable performance in the final against India, where he scored a memorable goal and consistently troubled defenders with his unpredictable movement, underscored his impact on the pitch. At just 25 years old, Al-Khaldi is riding a wave of momentum under Bento’s guidance, posing a significant challenge for opposing defenders.

Mohammad Daham

Another rising talent for Kuwait under the guidance of Rui Bento is the 24-year-old Mohammad Daham. Known for his consistent presence on the scoresheet, Daham has been a key contributor to Kuwait’s recent performances, even during their defeat against Qatar.

His ability to find the back of the net was evident in matches such as Kuwait’s emphatic victory over Afghanistan, where he also contributed with a goal.

In total, Daham has amassed an impressive record of three goals and four assists in just eleven appearances for the national team. His knack for both scoring and creating opportunities highlights his versatility and importance to the Kuwaiti side.

Hassan Hamdan Al-Enezi

Kuwait understands the importance of defensive solidity in their upcoming World Cup qualifiers, especially in guarding against threats from the center. Fortunately, they have a reliable asset in centre-back Hamdan, who has showcased impressive performances under Rui Bento’s guidance.

Hamdan’s standout displays during the SAFF Championship highlighted his leadership qualities and defensive prowess, providing a reassuring presence at the back. As they prepare to face India once more, Hamdan will undoubtedly aim to maintain his commanding presence on the field, effectively marshaling Kuwait’s defense and thwarting opposition attacks.

He intends to replicate his impactful performances and impose himself as a formidable obstacle for the Indian attackers to overcome.

What to Expect

Sunil Chhetri celebrates after India scored. (Image Source: Olympics)

Kuwait proved to be a formidable opponent for India in the SAFF Championship and the opening qualifier match, showcasing their defensive resilience and tactical awareness. With a deeper understanding of the Blue Tigers’ strengths and weaknesses from their previous encounters, Kuwait is expected to pose an even greater challenge this time around.

The Blue Wave boast a roster of young, unpredictable talents capable of causing havoc on the field, making them a threat to be reckoned with.

The upcoming qualifier is anticipated to be a tightly contested affair, characterized by end-to-end action as Kuwait won’t hesitate to take the fight to India.

Igor Stimac’s side must be defensively organized and clinical in front of the goal to overcome Kuwait and secure a positive result. With both teams eager to assert their dominance, the match promises to be an intense battle of skill and strategy.

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