FIFA World Cup Qualifiers: India see off Kuwait in the Round Two Opener
Manvir Singh's strike in the second half secures all three points for the Blue Tigers.
The Indian football team kicked off their FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers Round Two with a significant 1-0 victory over Kuwait away from home at the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait City on Thursday.
Manvir Singh scored the solitary goal of the match, securing all three points for the Blue Tigers in a tense encounter. This match marked the third meeting between the two sides this calendar year, with both teams having competed evenly so far. Both of their previous fixtures during the SAFF Championship ended in draws with India claiming victory in the final match of the SAFF Championship via a penalty shootout.
The two sides had a quiet start to the match, with neither giving room to the other. The first real opportunity for the Blue Tigers came in the 19th minute when Nikhil Poojary made a daunting run down the right flank. He found Sunil Chhetri inside the box, but the former's attempt went just over the bar.
In the 42nd minute, winger Manvir Singh intercepted Kuwaiti goalkeeper Kameel Marzouk's pass but ended up losing his footing and the ball, saving Marzouk from conceding due to a howler.
The second half had more life as both sides started creating more openings to break the deadlock. The trio of Naorem Mahesh-Sahal Abdul Samad-Manvir Singh tried to break through the Kuwaiti defence with little one-two touches but were unable to dispossess the opponent.
Igor Stimac introduced Lallianzuala Chhangte for Mahesh, and the former brought more space down the left flank. It was he who set it up for Manvir Singh with a perfect low cross, and Singh made a great connection with his left foot to find the back of the net.
Although Kuwait tried their best to come back from the deficit, the pressure of the situation got the better of them. Faisal Al Harbi received his marching orders after getting his second yellow of the night for a high foot with three minutes to play.
Kuwait kept India on their toes throughout the match, but a composed display from the Indian defence ensured them a clean sheet to kick off the World Cup Qualifiers with a motivating victory.
India will now host Asian giants Qatar at the Kalinga Stadium in Odisha on November 21.