More in the offing, promises Manvir after Kuwait triumph

One down, five more matches to go! India began their Preliminary Joint Qualification – Round 2 for FIFA World Cup 2026 & AFC Asian Cup campaign with crucial three points against Kuwait.

Points that came in the form of their first Pre-World Cup victory away from home in more than two decades.

The Blue Tigers have played two fiercely contested matches against the same opponents in the SAFF Championship earlier this year, both ending in draws after regulation time, as the former went on to be crowned champions after defeating Kuwait on penalties in the final. While the World Cup Qualifier on Thursday, November 16 was not as heated an affair as the previous two encounters, it was a tightly contested battle.

India head coach Igor Stimac, however, is not surprised, “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 really hard in the last four and a half years.”

Despite playing away from home, India seemed to have a lot of support at the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium, where they stopped the hosts in their tracks.

“Kuwait have many technically skilful individual players, but they couldn’t do it today. We were very patient and we knew that they’re 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 man of the moment was forward Manvir Singh, who swooped into the vacuum left at the top of the Kuwait box by a retreating Sunil Chhetri, as he connected perfectly with a Lallianzuala Chhangte cross to smash the winner home.

“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,” said Manvir. “I am lucky to score in a big match like this. Really looking forward to score more in the coming matches.”

Questions were raised about India’s away form ahead of the World Cup Qualification campaign, after the Blue Tigers played three and lost as many in overseas matches earlier this year. In fact, the last time they won away was in the 2021 SAFF Championship final, a 3-0 victory against Nepal, in Male, Maldives. Since then, the Blue Tigers have played eight, drawn one, and lost seven away from home.

India centre-back Sandesh Jhingan believes the importance of the occasion (a World Cup Qualifier) made the difference for the Blue Tigers. He said, “The weight of the tournament makes a difference. We gave a good account of ourselves in Thailand (King’s Cup). The Malaysia game (Merdeka Tournament) was, we can say, 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,” he said.

There is no time, however, to dwell on such victories. They next face the mighty reigning AFC Asian Cup champions Qatar in their next match, at home in Bhubaneswar, and all the focus shifted to that big game, right after the final whistle on Thursday. In a fitting manner, the team spent no time lingering around the Kuwaiti capital after their win against the posts. Instead, they hopped on the next available flight back to India, the very same day.

“It was very important to start on a winning note. I’m really proud of the team and of 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. 

“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,” said Jhingan.

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

Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for all the latest happenings in the world of Indian Football.

Somaiya FC announces trials for the upcoming 2024-25 Season

Somaiya FC, having secured a commendable 5th position in the MFA Super Division last season, has announced open trials as they gear up for upcoming season. The team, known for…

Share

VR Academy to conduct trials for 2024-25 Season

Mumbai based VR Academy has announced trials for the upcoming 2024-25 season. The club is looking for talented young players to join our esteemed academy and participate in various competitive…

Share

MH ORANJE FC U-17 Trials for the Upcoming Season

With a proud legacy of nurturing talent and achieving excellence, Maharashtra Oranje FC has recently made waves with appearances in I-League 2, securing a remarkable runner-up position in the fiercely…

Share

Football School of India announce trials for Young Talents

Football School of India (FSI) has announced trials for young football enthusiasts in the upcoming week of June. A golden opportunity for aspiring players to showcase their talents and potentially…

Share

MFA Super League club Charkop FC to conduct open trials for upcoming Season

Calling all aspiring football stars! Charkop FC, a MFA super division club based in Charkop, Kandivali, is set to conduct Open Trials for the upcoming season. About Charkop FC: In…

Share

Mumbai 42 Football Academy to conduct trials for Youth players

Newly established Mumbai 42 Football Academy will be conducting trials for young footballers in the upcoming week.

Share

SSE BFC to conduct trials for U9 to U17 age group players

SSE BFC Soccer School will be conducting fresh trials this month for players aged below 17 to be part of their football program SSE BFC Soccer Schools is a football…

Share

India Khelo Football Season 3 Trials for Mumbai and Thane are here

India Khelo Football (IKF) is back with Season 3 of its widely acclaimed trials with an aim to cover more than 50 cities this time around. After the resounding success…

Share

Mastering the Art of Football Trials: Key Pre-Trial Factors to Keep in Mind

Football trials are a critical juncture for aspiring players to showcase their skills and secure a spot in a team. To maximize your chances of success, it’s essential to tailor your approach based on your playing position as well as keeping in mind a few pre-trial factors.

Share

Somaiya Sports Academy to conduct trials for MFA 2nd Division campaign

Somaiya Sports Academy is looking for passionate young football players for the Somaiya Sports Academy Football Team to compete in the MFA 2nd Division League 2023-2024. If selected, you will…

Share