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FIFA World Cup Qualifiers

FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: Jay Gupta's debut and other talking points from India vs Kuwait

Published at :June 6, 2024 at 11:30 PM
Modified at :June 10, 2024 at 8:21 PM
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(Courtesy : AIFF media)


The Indian football team could not record a win as Sunil Chhetri’s last dance ended disappointingly.

The Indian football team played a goalless draw with Kuwait in the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers (second round) at the Salt Lake Stadium in Kolkata on Thursday, 6 June 2024.

In what was Sunil Chhetri’s final match for the Blue Tigers before he retired from international football, Igor Stimac’s men delivered an underwhelming performance in front of thousands of fans.

There were plenty of notable moments from the game that played a key role in the eventual outcome. From Jay Gupta’s debut to Indian forwards lacking precision in the final third, there was a lot to take away from the goalless draw in Group A of the AFC region’s World Cup Qualifiers (second round).

As the dust settles after the conclusion of the match between India and Kuwait, here is a look at the talking points:

Impressive debut by Jay Gupta

Jay Gupta started his first match for the Indian national team after a sensational Indian Super League term with FC Goa. The 22-year-old was not fazed by the occasion and pressure. He gave a good account of himself, using his physical stature and pace to keep Kuwait’s attackers in-check.

His impressive debut gives India another option in the left-back role and provides competition for places.

Wasteful distribution by Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu let his team down with poor distribution from the back. He hoofed the ball up the field on many occasions after being pressured by Kuwait’s high press.

India had a good ball-playing centre-back in Anwar Ali, but he was not found by the goalkeeper who cleared the ball to no man’s land rather than having the composure to bring the ball down and play a pass. Perhaps, someone like Vishal Kaith could have been a better alternative.

Missed chances in first half

The Indian football team created lots of decent scoring chances in the first half, using the momentum created by the loud cheers of the fans from the stands. However, they did not convert any of them which was frustrating to see.

There was an instance where Anwar Ali found himself completely unmarked from a corner, but sent his header over the bar.

The wastefulness shown by Indian attackers allowed Kuwait to resist the pressure and create chances themselves in the second half.

Lucky Anwar Ali

Anwar Ali was superb throughout the game for India. However, at the stroke of 75 minutes, the centre-back made a hash of a long ball clearance and seemingly fouled Kuwait’s forward inside the penalty area.

Luckily for the defender, the referee did not award a penalty despite Ali being miles away from the ball and taking out the forward, denying him a scoring chance. If the foul was given, it would have resulted in a red card for the defender, putting the Indian team in serious trouble.

Anti-climactic end to Sunil Chhetri’s career

Sunil Chhetri could not score in the final match of his illustrious career for India. The legendary footballer, who now hangs up his boots after scoring 94 goals in 151 national team appearances (both records), left the pitch in tears.

While the emotions were far bigger than the result, failing to guide India to a win against Kuwait was a major setback as it put the Blue Tigers in a difficult situation, staring at the exit from the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

Igor Stimac’s men now have a herculean task of defeating Qatar, the reigning Asian champions, to make it into the next round of the qualifiers or rely on other results to go their way.

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