When Manvir Singh struck the winner, ecstasy exuded from the Indian contingent, with thousands of fans celebrating with the tricolour at the Jaber al-Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait.
Five days after the match, at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, India will test the waters against Asian Champion Qatar, which comes into the game after mauling Afghanistan 8-1 in their opening fixture in the second round of the FIFA World Cup 2026 AFC qualifiers.
India is without its three first-team regulars – centre-back Anwar Ali (ankle injury), midfielder Jeakson Singh (shoulder injury) and winger Ashique Kuruniyan (anterior crucial ligament injury).
Qatar, on the other hand, will be bubbling with confidence after the win. But it will be cautious to not scoff at its lower-ranked opponent, which limited it to just one goal in their previous clash, despite going down to 10 men within 17 minutes.
For its head coach Carlos Queiroz, under whom the side won just thrice in 12 games so far, it will be another opportunity to further clear the air of opprobrium around his future.
The aberration of being the worst-performing host in a FIFA World Cup is history now, and Queiroz will feel the pressure to change the country’s football narrative as he did for Iran.
Against India, with Chhetri and Chhangte in front of Sahal Abdul Samad and Naorem Mahesh Singh, the visitor’s ability to nip attacks in the bud will be tested well.
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