Kuwait looking to bounce back from opening setback against India

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Faisal Zayed vies for the ball with an Indian player during the World Cup and Asian Cup qualifier in Kuwait.

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Nov 18, (Agencies): Kuwait’s Portuguese national team coach, Rui Pinto, has made the decision to call up Kuwait Club striker Ibrahim Kamil to fill the void left by the suspension of Faisal Zayed, the enrollment of Ahmed Al-Zanki in a military course, and the injury of Salman Al-Awadhi for 2026 World Cup and the 2027 Asian Cup qualifiers.

Kamil has joined the Al-Azraq delegation in the Saudi city of Dammam to prepare for the upcoming match against Afghanistan scheduled for Tuesday. Kuwait will be looking to bounce back from their opening setback against India.

During a press conference following Al-Azraq’s recent loss to India by a single goal last Thursday, Coach Pinto acknowledged the team’s modest performance in the initial round. He expressed a sense of responsibility for the defeat, citing the choices he made and emphasizing that the team’s level did not reflect the effort put in over the past period. Pinto stressed the importance of working to overcome the setback against India and apologized to Kuwaiti fans for the outcome.

Meanwhile, Igor Stimac, the coach of the Indian national team, stated that the victory over Kuwait in their home country did not come as a surprise to him. Stimac highlighted the patience of Indian players in scoring and mentioned that the Kuwaiti team faced pressure during the match. He explained that India adopted a defensive strategy, relying on rebounds.

Stimac expressed optimism about the joint qualifiers, stating that both India and Kuwait have the potential to succeed. He praised the technical prowess of the Kuwaiti national team, considering it superior to many teams in the Asian continent.

Players on Australia’s national soccer team will donate a portion of their match fees from a World Cup qualifier against Palestine towards humanitarian causes in Gaza. Australia plays Palestine in Kuwait on Tuesday in a game that was going to be held in the West Bank but was relocated due to the escalation of violence in the region.

Hamas’ deadly attack on Israel’s southern region on Oct. 7 was followed by Israel declaring war on the group and launching retaliatory strikes on the Gaza Strip. Palestinian health officials say more than 11,000 residents in Hamas-controlled Gaza have been killed in air and artillery strikes.

“It’s unfathomable to comprehend,” midfielder Jackson Irvine was quoted by Australian Associated Press as saying Saturday. “You’re talking about one of the most complicated geopolitical issues of the last 100 years.”

The players’ union, Professional Footballers Australia, confirmed a percentage of player match fees would be directed towards Oxfam’s humanitarian efforts in Gaza, via the PFA’s Footballers’ Trust. The move is a player-led effort with Football Australia matching the players’ donations, but no dollar amounts were mentioned.

“The thoughts of the PFA are with all of those impacted by the conflict and the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding as a result,” co-chief executive officer Beau Busch said in a statement. “Aid agencies and humanitarian groups have been clear on the scale of need and the players were able to play a part.”
Irvine is the PFA president as well as captain of German club FC St. Pauli. The Socceroos beat Bangladesh 7-0 in Melbourne on Thursday and took a charter flight to Kuwait on Saturday. The Palestinians held Lebanon to a 0-0 draw on neutral turf in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates in their second-round opener.

“We’re aware of the situation, we understand that football in this moment is probably not the priority in some ways,” Irvine said. “But at the end of the day, we’ve got a game to win and a performance to focus on.”

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