Manvir's lightning strike illuminated India's World Cup Qualifiers campaign
By siliconindia | Friday, 17 November 2023, 11:58:28 AM IST
Manvir Singh's left-footed strike in the 75th minute secured India's victory over Kuwait at the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait City. The once-sedate contest turned into an exciting one when Manvir scored a powerful left-footer from a Lallianzuala Chhangte cross, positioning himself perfectly in the rival box. The gigantic stadium was bathed in artificial lights, but none of it could outshine Manvir's performance.
India now travels to Bhubaneswar to play their next match in the group against mighty Qatar, undoubtedly the toughest side in the four-team contest. But the victory was a remarkable one. Beating Kuwait in their own backyard was no mean achievement. Kuwait was completely rattled and upset. They were left further embarrassed during the add-on time when substitute Faisal Alharbi was given the marching orders by the Australian referee for picking up his second yellow card, something the attacking midfielder could have easily avoided.
India won 3 points thanks to a crucial goal, which could prove decisive in their quest to reach the next round of the World Cup campaign for the first time in history. Head coach Igor Stimac deserves credit for the victory, as his decision to bring on Chhangte in the 64th minute helped to turn the game around. Chhangte's fresh legs caused problems for a tired Kuwait defense, and his perfectly angled cross from the left left them stranded and unable to react.
India and Kuwait had two intense battles in the SAFF Championships in Bengaluru a few months ago, with India ultimately emerging as the winners in the final after a tie-breaker. What made their win even more impressive was that it was achieved on Kuwait's home turf within the regulation period. Although India had the upper hand in the game, they failed to create enough positive chances. However, the hosts were unable to penetrate India's defence and thus could not take any credit away from India. India's goalkeeper, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, had a relatively quiet day at work since the attacks that he had to deal with were mostly harmless.
India, on the other hand, was far more enterprising though they too failed to open the Kuwait defence too many times. Yet, in the first half, India was doing the right things on the right, with Nikhil Poojary and Manvir Singh being the chief operators. One such foray saw Poojary floating the ball inside the box in a copybook style. Skipper Sunil Chhetri took a volley that had the required punch but not the direction. It sailed over the bar. It was perhaps the best chance India had in the match, apart from Manvir’s magical strike.
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