During the decisive match of the ongoing 2023 Bangabandhu SAFF Championship on Tuesday night at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru, India defeated West Asian powerhouse Kuwait by a thrilling 5-4 penalty score.
The score was tied at 4-4 after five rounds of penalty kicks, so the game was decided by sudden death. Mahesh Naorem of India scored, while Khaled Hajiah’s attempt was stopped by goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, giving the victory to the home team.
The first half of the match ended in a 1-1 draw, and neither team was able to win in the required 90 minutes or the 30-minute overtime.
Forward Lallianzuala Chhangte assisted India in getting back into the game with an equalizer in the 38th minute after forward Shabaib Al-Khaldi scored for Kuwait in the 14th minute.
When Albloushi crossed for Al-khaldi on a cut-back, Kuwait took the lead. Al-Khaldi fired into the goal while going unmarked.
Sunil Chhetri, the captain of the Indian team, played a through pass to Sahal, who crossed for Chhangte to score the equalizer.
Igor Stimac, the head coach of India, wasn’t in the dugout, though, since he was serving a two-match suspension after receiving a red card in their previous match against Kuwait.
Meanwhile, hosts India, who are the most successful team in the regional competition, maintained their domination having won the tournament nine times out of the 14 editions.
On the other side, Kuwait, one of the two guest teams in the ongoing SAFF, featured in the tournament for the first time and also stormed into the final.