Kuwait eyes win and hopes for India to stumble in World Cup qualifiers

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Kuwait team led by the head coach holds a press conference on the eve of the decisive match against Afghanistan.

KUWAIT CITY, June 10: Kuwait aims for nothing less than victory as it hosts Afghanistan at 6:45 pm at Ali Sabah Al-Salem Stadium in Al-Nasr Club, during the sixth and final round of Group A competitions in the joint Asian qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup in the USA, Mexico, and Canada, and the 2027 Asian Cup in Saudi Arabia.

However, victory alone will not suffice for Kuwait to secure a spot in the Asian Cup finals in Saudi Arabia or advance to the decisive round of World Cup qualifiers. The team also needs India to stumble against Qatar, either by drawing or losing. India faces Qatar in Doha at the same time.

Qatar has already secured the first qualification ticket, leading the standings with 13 points. India and Afghanistan each have 5 points, one point ahead of Kuwait, which is fourth in the standings.

Kuwait began its qualifying campaign with a surprising defeat against India last November at Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium, losing by a single goal. It then recovered to defeat Afghanistan 4-0. However, it stumbled in the third and fourth rounds, winning 3-0 and 2-1 respectively. Kuwait recently drew 0-0 with India in the fifth round.

In recent training sessions, Al-Azraq’s Portuguese coach Rui Pinto has focused on addressing the mistakes made against India, particularly the tendency of some players to play individually. He also emphasized the importance of capitalizing on opportunities, as missing chances cost Al-Azraq two points against India, which would have made qualification easier without relying on a “Qatari gift.”

Today’s lineup might see some changes due to the decline in the performance of some players. Khaled Ibrahim’s chances of playing are slim, but Fahd Al-Hajri is ready to step in. On the other side, Afghanistan needs a win to achieve a “historic qualification.” A draw today, combined with an Indian loss or draws against Qatar, would also secure its qualification.

Afghanistan started the qualifiers with heavy losses to Qatar (1-8) and Kuwait (0-4). After changing its technical staff and appointing English coach Ashley Westwood, it tied with India 0-0, then beat India 2-1, and tied with Qatar 0-0 in the last round.

Today’s match will be officiated by a Japanese referee team led by Kimura Hiroyuki, assisted by Asada Takeshi and Takebe Yusuke, with the fourth referee being Kasahara Hiroki. The Iranian referee observer is Hassan Kamrani Far, and the Emirati match observer is Hamad Al Mazrouei.

Khaled El Anzi

Al-Seyassah/Arab Times Staff

This news has been read 711 times!

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