India 0-0 Kuwait: Top performers from India | FIFA World Cup Qualifiers 2026

India played a nil nil draw against Kuwait today (Image courtesy: AIFF Media)
India played a nil nil draw against Kuwait today (Image courtesy: AIFF Media)

India and Kuwait played out a goalless draw in an all-important second-round qualifying game of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers 2026 in Kolkata on Thursday, June 6. It was the fifth match of the Qualifier's second round for both sides.

The game had a lot of emotional connection for the Indian side as it was the last international game of captain Sunil Chhetri. The veteran forward has been the flagbearer for the national team and Indian football for over a decade now. He is also the third-highest active goalscorer in international football, only behind Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

The game in Kolkata was a must-win for India if they wanted to qualify for the third round. A draw would have been enough for Kuwait to keep their hopes alive as they face Afghanistan in their final game of the second round. India, meanwhile, play Qatar in their final game of the second-round qualifiers.

The match started with the visitors getting the first good chance of the game, but Gurpreet Singh Sandhu made a brilliant save to deny Kuwait an early lead. The Blue Tigers also had their fair share of chances in the early moments of the game but failed to convert them. Anwar Ali had a good opportunity from an Anirudh Thapa corner, but his header went inches above the crossbar.

Jay Gupta put in two good crosses from the left flank, but it was defended very well by Kuwait's defense. Igor Stimac was unhappy seeing his side miss some good chances and failing to win the second balls in midfield.

Both teams were unhappy going into the halftime break with the score reading 0-0.

Stimac made two crucial changes at the start of the second half as Brandon and Rahim Ali were introduced in place of Anirudh Thapa and Sahal Abdul Samad, respectively.

Rahim probably got the best chance of the game within minutes of coming on, but with just the keeper to beat, he hit a poor shot that went straight to Sulaiman Abdulghafoor, the Kuwait custodian. The Blue Tigers will regret missing this golden chance to secure the lead.

Stimac made some more attacking changes with the hope of securing a victory. The substitutes though didn't work wonders as expected.

The scoreboard at full-time read 0-0. It was a result that will help the visitors as the qualification hopes for India look bleak after the draw.

In this piece, we look at the top Indian performers from their game against Kuwait.


Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

Gurpreet had a good game (Image Courtesy: AIFF Media)
Gurpreet had a good game (Image Courtesy: AIFF Media)

A lot was said about Gurpreet starting against Kuwait, given his recent poor run of form in the domestic season. But the Punjabi lad showed why he is Igor Stimac's number one choice. He made a brilliant one-on-one save to deny the visitors an early lead.

Gurpreet also made a brilliant one-handed save in the second half to keep the score at 0-0. Had it not been for Gurpreet's brilliance between the posts the, scoreboard could have said a different tale.


Jay Gupta

Jay Gupta had a good debut (Image courtesy: AIFF Media)
Jay Gupta had a good debut (Image courtesy: AIFF Media)

The FC Goa left-back made his India debut in the important game against Kuwait. Jay was brilliant in the first half as his aggressive forward runs took the Kuwait defense by surprise. His crosses were something to admire in the first half.

However, Jay failed to keep up his momentum in the second 45. This is something he would want to improve on in the upcoming matches.


Anwar Ali

Anwar managed to keep the defense tight today (Image courtesy: AIFF Media)
Anwar managed to keep the defense tight today (Image courtesy: AIFF Media)

Anwar Ali was good for India going forward, especially during set pieces. His header early on from an Anirudh Thapa corner went just above the crossbar.

Anwar was brilliant defensively too, making some crucial tackles to stop the visitors from creating clear-cut openings.

Anwar needs to work on his game during transitions and attacks as he is the main centre-back for the Blue Tigers.

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