Monday, July 22
India SAFF Champions

India emerges victorious in the SAFF Championships! In a thrilling penalty shootout

In an electrifying finale between India and Kuwait at the SAFF 2023 Final, India demonstrated their prowess by defeating Kuwait 5-4 in a gripping penalty shootout. With this remarkable victory, India secures the SAFF Championships title for the ninth time. This triumph marks India’s ninth trophy in the history of the SAFF Championship, having participated in 14 editions of the tournament.

In the first half of the match, Kuwait initially took the lead with a goal from Shabib Al Khaldi in the 14th minute. However, India managed to equalize before halftime with a goal from Lallianzuala Chhangte in the 38th minute.

Ultimately, the game was decided in a penalty shootout, where India emerged victorious. Their goalkeeper, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, made a crucial save, denying Kuwait’s Khalid El Ebrahim from scoring.

Previously, the Indian Football Team had an impressive record, winning eight championships out of 13 editions of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship. In the summit clash against Kuwait, which took place on Tuesday, July 4, at Bangalore’s Sree Kanteerava Stadium, India aimed to continue their success.

As the defending champions, India had maintained an unbeaten streak throughout the tournament, displaying excellent form. In the 2021 SAFF final in the Maldives, they secured their eighth title by defeating Nepal 3-0.

India began their campaign on a high note, triumphing over Pakistan 4-0 in the first match, with Sunil Chettri, the team’s captain, scoring a remarkable hat trick. In the subsequent group stage match against Nepal, India secured a comfortable 2-0 victory, with Chettri and Mahesh Singh finding the back of the net.

Having already faced Kuwait in the group stage, resulting in a 1-1 draw, India looked forward to their second encounter in the tournament. During their previous match, Chettri scored a crucial goal in stoppage time of the first half, but an unfortunate own goal by defender Anwar Ali in the 90+2 minutes allowed Kuwait to equalize. Despite India’s overall dominance, luck favored Kuwait on that occasion.

In the semi-finals, India faced Lebanon in a highly anticipated rematch of the recently-held Intercontinental Cup final. The Blue Tigers emerged victorious on both occasions, defeating the Cedars 2-0 in the Intercontinental Cup final and triumphing 4-2 in the semi-finals through a penalty shootout. Throughout both matches, India showcased superior performance and outplayed their opponents.

The highly anticipated SAFF 2023 Final between India and Kuwait is set to take place today at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 PM (IST).

Football enthusiasts can catch the live action of the India vs. Kuwait SAFF 2023 Final on the Star Sports Network. Alternatively, they can stream the match live on the Fancode app and website.

The Indian squad, led by manager Igor Štimac, is expected to field a 4-2-3-1 formation. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu will guard the goal, supported by a defensive line consisting of Nikhil Poojary, Anwar Ali, Sandesh Jhingan, and Akash Mishra. The midfield will be anchored by the duo of Jeakson Singh and Anirudh Thapa, with Sahal Abdul Samad operating as the central midfielder. Naorem Mahesh Singh and Lallianzuala Chhangte will provide width on the wings, while Sunil Chhetri will spearhead the attack as the main striker.

Kuwait, managed by Rui Bento, is likely to adopt a 4-2-3-1 formation. Abdulrahman Kameel will take charge of the goalkeeping duties, supported by a defensive quartet comprising Abdullah Al Baloushi, Khalid El Ebrahim, Hasan Al Enezi, and Hamad Al Qallaf. The midfield trio of Fawaz Al Otaibi, Hamad Al Harbi, and Ali Khalaf will control the midfield, while Eid Naser Al Rashedi and Mubarak Al Faneni will operate on the wings. Shabib Al Khaldi will lead the attack as the lone striker.

With both teams fielding strong lineups and the excitement surrounding the match, fans can anticipate an enthralling contest as the Blue Tigers aim for glory in the SAFF 2023 Final.