The Indian national team will go head-to-head against Kuwait in their final group stage game of the 2023 SAFF Championship to decide the winners of Group A at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Tuesday.

Just like India, Kuwait has also secured two back-to-back wins in the SAFF Championship against Nepal and Pakistan by a comfortable margin of 3-1 and 4-0, respectively. The Rui Bento-coached side has been in excellent form recently and aims to continue their success against the Blue Tigers. Given their much more organized and experienced defence, Kuwait can pose a stronger threat to India in their quest to top Group A.

With that, let's take a closer look at their national team.


Known as the Blue Wave, Kuwait played their first international match in the 1961 Pan Arab Games against Libya, which ended in a 2-2 draw. Managed by the Kuwait Football Association, the Kuwait national football team was one of the formidable forces in Asian football from the 1970s to the 2000s. Kuwait reached the final of the AFC Asian Cup in 1976 and won the tournament in 1980. They even qualified for the FIFA World Cup once, back in 1982, and secured one point from the group stage. Kuwait achieved their historic FIFA ranking of 24th in 1998 during their golden generation. Their biggest win came against Bhutan when they dismantled the opponents by a huge margin of 20-0.

However, the strength of Kuwait slowly faded away from the 2010s due to multiple bans by FIFA and instability. They failed to secure qualification for the Asian Cup in 2011 and 2015, before being disqualified for the 2019 edition. They also fell short of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualification.

Presently, Kuwait is in the midst of a revival period and has demonstrated promising performances, reflected by their climb in the FIFA rankings from a low of 189 in 2017 to their current position at 143.

Form Guide

Despite their current FIFA ranking of 143, Kuwait has displayed remarkable progress in recent years, consistently delivering impressive performances and securing notable results. In the group stage of the Gulf Cup earlier this year, they posed a tough challenge to Qatar, although they ultimately suffered a 2-0 defeat. However, they quickly rebounded with an incredible 1-0 victory against the United Arab Emirates in the subsequent match. Since their loss to Qatar, they have remained undefeated, boasting a streak of seven matches without a loss and emerging victorious in each of their last five games, including two unofficial friendlies against Zambia B and Sudan that they played just prior to the SAFF Championship.

Head-to-Head Record

The upcoming match on Tuesday will mark only the fourth meeting between the two teams. Kuwait currently holds the advantage in the head-to-head battle with two victories, while India has secured one win. In the previous encounters, Kuwait demonstrated their dominance over the Blue Tigers, winning 6-1 and 9-1 in the first and third meetings, respectively. However, in a thrilling battle, India managed to defeat Kuwait with a score of 3-2 in an international friendly back in 2004.

Key Players

Shabaib Al-Khaldi: Forward Al-Khalidi is one of Kuwait's most threatening players. The 24-year-old made his debut during the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification match against Chinese Taipei and immediately left an impact by scoring a goal in Kuwait's resounding 9-0 victory.

Having earned 24 national caps to date, Al-Khalidi has already netted six goals for his country. He also found the back of the net against Nepal in the first game of the SAFF Championship. With his imposing presence and towering height, the Kuwait No. 10 can definitely pose a significant threat to the Indian defence.

Notably, Kuwait have scored in every game since their 2-0 defeat to Qatar on January 7, 2023.

Khalid El Ebrahim: Defender El Ebrahim, one of the senior players in the squad, holds a crucial role as a reliable centre-back and has been an influential figure in Kuwait's recent successes. He has contributed immensely to their impressive defensive record this year. In the seven official games played, Kuwait has managed to keep three clean sheets and has only conceded five goals. Besides his defensive duties, he is also recognized for his threat during attacking set-pieces.

Match Details

Fixture: India vs Kuwait

June 27, 2023

Time: 7.30 PM

Venue: Sree Kanteerava Stadium, Bengaluru

Telecast: DD Sports & Fancode