Manvir Singh’s second-half goal gave India a memorable victory over Kuwait in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers

The Indian men’s national football team began their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying journey with an impressive 1-0 victory over Kuwait at the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait. After a cautious first half, Manvir Singh’s second-half goal secured three points for the Blue Tigers on Thursday, November 16.

India head coach Igor Stimac surprisingly dropped two of his regular players, Lallianzuala Chhangte and Anirudh Thapa, from the starting eleven. Rahul Bheke partnered Sandesh Jhingan at the back and Manvir Singh replaced Chhangte on the right wing. Moreover, Mumbai City FC midfielder Apuia Ralte made his debut for Mumbai City FC for the first time since June, joining Suresh Singh Wangjam’s side as a striker.

The hosts started on the attack, while the Blue Tigers were content to sit back and count on their opponents scoring during the break. However, it was the visitors who had the first clear opportunity of the match. Sunil Chhetri narrowly missed the target with a shot from outside the penalty area around the 20th minute.

India’s attacks were largely organized from the flanks, with Manvir Singh looking particularly dangerous on the break. Kuwait, on the other hand, seemed more composed but struggled to create anything significant.

In the first half of the match, both teams had few opportunities to score. The first half ended calmly with the score 0-0, with both teams having only one shot on target.

India scores a goal in the second half to secure a vital win over Kuwait

Kuwait head coach Rui Bento made three changes at the start of the second half to improve his team’s intensity and level of play. Midfielders Ahmad Zanki, Hamad Al-Qallaf and Zaid Al-Harbi replaced Mobarak Al-Faneni, Mohsen Ghareeb and Reda Hani.

As a result, the guests went on break and created the first clear opportunity just a minute into the first half. The set-piece caused India plenty of problems, but Fahad Al-Hajeri, who was unmarked, headed wide from close range. Despite Kuwait’s attack, the Blue Tigers resolutely stood back and consistently removed the threat Kuwait posed.

The game finally started to open up and when Chhangte came on about an hour later, India started to create problems on both wings. Their pressure ultimately paid off as the Blue Tigers took the lead with 15 minutes left in regulation.

After a quick move from behind, Chhangte, who ran behind the defender, delivered an accurate cross into the penalty area. Both wingers combined as Manvir Singh beat his marker and then slotted the ball into the bottom corner with his weak foot.

After scoring, India showed resilience in defense to secure a crucial 1-0 away win against Kuwait. Their next challenge awaits against Qatar at the Kalinga Stadium on November 21, while Kuwait will face Afghanistan on the same day.

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