Battle Between India and Kuwait Ends With Even.

SAFF CHAMPIONSHIP: Chhetri's heroics were not enough to take India home.

Jun 28, 2023 - 22:56
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Battle Between India and Kuwait Ends With Even.
India vs Kuwait.

Kuwait held India to a 1-1 draw in an evenly contested but ill-tempered battle of the SAFF Championship at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium here on Thursday. Sunil Chhetri's sublime volley at the stroke of half-time nearly won it for India but Anwar Ali's own goal in the second minute of injury time meant Kuwait finished Group-A topper (on goals scored, 8 to 7). In the first half, the hosts pressed with vigour and won the ball high up the pitch multiple times, only for below par-execution in the final third to let them down. 

Kuwait, on the other hand, impressed with its fluid transition from defence to offence, its penchant for sweeping moves finding expression through the likes of Ahmad Aldhefery and Eid Alrashidi. But India kept its defensive shape with Akash Mishra and Anwar having an outstanding game. Anwar even had a golden chance to put his team ahead in the 35th minute when he rose high and met a corner cleanly, only to dump it wide. But with the break approaching, Naorem Mahesh swung a fine cross from the left that was turned away for a corner. 

From Thapa's kick, Chhetri connected a great volley from just inside the penalty area that ended up bulging the net at the bottom left corner. In the second period, the visitors grew restless and fidgety as India seldom allowed them to settle into a rhythm. Their best opportunity came in the 55th minute, but Amrinder Singh tipped away a free kick from Shabib Alkhaldi. With India seemingly in control, head coach Igor Stimac, just back from a suspension, unwittingly got into another scuffle and picked up a caution. Minutes later, he was sent off for a second yellow, this time for being relentlessely in the ear of the fourth official. 

He watched from the stands as the rest of the match slipped into acrimony. Tempers flared as India substitute Rahim Ali and Kuwait's Hamad Alqallaf were thrown out. When Anwar's botched clearance looped back into his own net, the Kuwaiti bench gestured wildly in Stimac's direction, and two more players picked up yellow cards. It felt inevitable that a fine football match had to end with the police escorting the match officials. 

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