Manvir Singh’s late heroics secure victory for India in World Cup Qualifiers

India's forward Manvir Singh seized the spotlight with a magnificent left-footed strike in the 75th minute, propelling the national team to a triumphant start in Round 2 of the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 Joint Qualification campaign.

India’s forward Manvir Singh seized the spotlight with a magnificent left-footed strike in the 75th minute, propelling the national team to a triumphant start in Round 2 of the FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup Saudi Arabia 2027 Joint Qualification campaign.

The solitary goal secured a hard-fought victory against hosts Kuwait at the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait City on Thursday, November 16, 2023.

The match, initially appearing subdued, witnessed a transformative moment when Manvir Singh, strategically positioned in the opponent’s box, elegantly converted a precise cross from Lallianzuala Chhangte. Abdul Rahman Marzouq, Kuwait’s goalkeeper, found no answer to the powerful left-footer that found the back of the net.

India’s next challenge awaits in Bhubaneswar against formidable Qatar, a team that showcased dominance by defeating Afghanistan 8-1 in another group match. Despite facing the toughest contender in the four-team group, India’s victory over Kuwait holds immense significance, setting a positive tone for their aspirations to progress further in the World Cup campaign.

The strategic decision by India’s head coach Igor Stimac to introduce Chhangte in the 64th minute proved pivotal. Chhangte’s fresh energy and a masterful cross from the left were instrumental in breaking the deadlock. The momentous win garnered enthusiastic applause from the substantial Indian fanbase present at the stadium, marking a historic step in India’s quest for World Cup qualification.

This victory, more commendable considering India’s triumph over Kuwait in the SAFF Championships tie-breaker just a few months ago, underscores the team’s growth and resilience. Notably, this win was achieved on Kuwait’s home turf, within the regulation period, demonstrating India’s assertiveness throughout the match.

While chances were limited on both sides, India displayed a more enterprising approach. Goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu had a relatively calm day, with the Kuwait attacks lacking the necessary bite. In the first half, India’s Nikhil Poojary and Manvir Singh orchestrated several promising moves. The best opportunity came when captain Sunil Chhetri’s volley sailed over the bar, highlighting India’s dominance despite the missed chances.

India’s Starting XI:

  • Gurpreet Singh Sandhu (GK)
  • Akash Mishra
  • Rahul Bheke
  • Sandesh Jhingan
  • Nikhil Poojary
  • Suresh Singh Wangjam (Rohit Kumar, 96+7’)
  • Lalengmawia Ralte
  • Sahal Abdul Samad (Anirudh Thapa, 83′)
  • Mahesh Singh Naorem (Lallianzuala Chhangte, 64’)
  • Sunil Chhetri (C) (Rahul KP, 90+6′)
  • Manvir Singh (Liston Colaco, 83′)

Full-Time: Kuwait 0 – 1 India (Manvir Singh 75′)

Also Read: Lalrinzuala’s second half hat-trick gives Aizawl the win against NEROCA

Also Read: 2001 World Cup Qualifiers: When the dream run nearly shattered the reality

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