Sunil Chhetri farewell match: Skipper leads the attack alongside Colaco and Chhangte against Kuwait; Jay Gupta makes his debut

India will hope for three points against Kuwait in the WC Quaifiers.
India will hope for three points against Kuwait in the WC Quaifiers.

A few eyebrows were raised as Igor Stimac named a few surprise inclusions in the starting lineup for the Indian men's national team's crucial FIFA World Cup 2026 clash against Kuwait at the Salt Lake Stadium on June 6, Thursday. While Sunil Chhetri will play his final match for the country, on the contrary, Jay Gupta will make his debut for the Blue Tigers.

There are no surprises for the man guarding the net, as Igor Stimac had already underlined in the pre-match press conference that Gurpreet Singh Sandhu will remain his first-choice gloveman. In front of him, Anwar Ali and Rahul Bheke will start as the leading center-back pairing. Meanwhile, Gupta, who has had a breakthrough season in the ISL with FC Goa, will take the left-back spot.

With Apuia opting out of the international window, Igor Stimac has been handed a bit of a quandary in his midfield department. Still, Suresh Singh Wangjam will slot into the holding midfielder role. Mohun Bagan SG midfield duo Anirudh Thapa and Sahal Abdul Samad will start as the two eights.

The attacking line, unsurprisingly, will be led by Sunil Chhetri, who is set to make his final appearance for the country. With a 94 international goal tally, there are no questions to be asked about his inclusion. Lallianzuala Chhangte will expectedly start on the right, but Liston Colaco is a surprise entrant into the starting lineup.

With Manvir Singh, Naorem Mahesh Singh, or even Nandhakumar Sekar enjoying a better form for their respective clubs, Colaco's inclusion will raise a few eyebrows However, as long as India walks away with the three points it's going to be all smiles.

Full starting lineup for India vs Kuwait FIFA WC 2026 Qualifiers

India XI: Gurpreet Singh (GK), Rahul Bheke, Anwar Ali, Jay Gupta, Anirudh Thapa, Suresh Singh Wangjam, Sunil Chhetri (C), Liston Colaco, Lallianzuala Chhangte, Sahal Abdul Samad, Nikhil Poojary.

Kuwait XI: Sulaiman(GK), Alenezi, Ibrahim, Abdulah, Alharbi, Alrashidi, Aldousari, Abujabarah, Saleh (C), Alsulaiman, Hasan Alenezi.

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