Not surprised by the outcome: Igor Stimac on India's win over Kuwait
Igor Stimac was all praise for his side as India beat Kuwait 1-0 in the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
Indian national football team started their World Cup Qualifiers campaign with a 1-0 victory against Kuwait. The Blue Tigers put in a solid defensive display to keep the Kuwait's attacking players at bay throughout the whole 90 minutes of the match.
The game was played at a steady pace during the first half, with neither side being able to exert full control. However, during the second half, Kuwait were looking to establish their foothold on the game and were playing with a fast tempo. India managed the game well in the second half before a lightning-quick counter-attacking move by the Blue Tigers got them the first goal and only goal in the game and helped to win the match.
This win has put India in a strong position in their group ahead of their next game against 2019 AFC Asian Cup champions Qatar. Qatar thrashed Afghanistan by an 8-1 scoreline in Doha in their first game of the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers. The upcoming game against them will be a difficult but exciting contest for the Blue Tigers.
India head coach Igor Stimac looked confident of his side's capabilities and was not too surprised with the outcome.
“I am not surprised by the outcome, but I always maintain respect for our opponents. Nevertheless, I have complete confidence in our team and their abilities," Stimac stated in the post-match press conference.
"Our goal was to win the game, although it is important to exercise caution when expressing such sentiments, as it may be perceived as underestimating our opponents. I have utmost trust in our team and the effort they have put in over the past four and a half years,” he added.
Stimac joined as head coach of India shortly after the 2019 AFC Asian Cup. He contributed heavily to the change in playstyle of the team over the years.
The Blue Tigers are beginning to reap the rewards of their belief in him after a seemingly turbulent initial few months of his reign. The Blue Tigers won the Intercontinental Cup and the SAFF Cup earlier this year. They also beat strong opponents like Lebanon and Kuwait along the way who had proved to be difficult opponents to beat for the Blue Tigers over the years.
Stimac acknowledged the work that the players and his coaching staff have put in over the years and its results that are visible now.
“We have worked diligently with them, supporting and guiding them, acknowledging their mistakes and urging them to persevere. And now, we are beginning to see the results of our efforts,” Stimac said.
India warded off hordes of Kuwait attacks throughout the game with a solid defensive effort. Stimac was initially concerned because India were missing three key players due to injury but remarked that he was satisfied with the work put in by the players replacing them.
"We maintained complete control over the game and denied Kuwait any opportunity. I had some concerns as we were missing three key players due to significant injuries, but the players who took their place did an exceptional job,” Stimac said.