Home Match vs Kuwait Crucial For India In FIFA WC qualifiers: Igor Stimac

Feb 10, 2024

India's home match against Kuwait on June 6 could be one of the most important matches for head coach Igor Stimac as the country looks to make the third round of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers for the first time in its history. Stimac is believed to have told the All India Football Federation (AIFF) technical committee in a virtual meeting on Saturday that even if India beat Afghanistan twice (home and away) in March, they will still qualify for the third round. It will be difficult to do. If the team does not perform well against Kuwait.

According to a source, “He said that the Kuwait match at home in June would be the most important upcoming match if India were to qualify for the third round. He gave his reasoning and explained it to the members.”

The online meeting was held to review the performance of the Indian team in the AFC Asian Cup and decide the future course of action.

India had lost all three of their group matches and failed to score any goals in their disappointing Asian Cup campaign in Qatar last month.

He promised after the Asian Cup defeat that he would take the country to the first third round of FIFA World Cup qualification.

India have been drawn in Group A along with Qatar, Kuwait and Afghanistan in the second round of 2026 FIFA World Cup qualification. The top two teams of the group will advance to the third round of FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

The Blue Tigers have never reached the third round of the AFC FIFA World Cup qualifiers but now have the chance after beating Kuwait 1-0 in Kuwait City last November.

“The mission to defeat Kuwait away from home and get three points has been accomplished. Now the two games against Afghanistan and the home match against Kuwait will be extremely important,” Stimac said in an AIFF release.

India, who later lost 0-3 to Qatar in Bhubaneswar, are joint second with Kuwait in the group standings after playing two matches each.

India will play Afghanistan at home in Dushanbe, Tajikistan on March 21 (as Afghanistan cannot host international matches due to the unstable situation in the country), before facing the same opponent in Guwahati on March 26 (home match).

AIFF acting general secretary Satyanarayana informed the technical committee that apart from Hyderabad, three state associations – Maharashtra, Odisha and West Bengal – have expressed interest in hosting the June 6 match against Kuwait.

AIFF is yet to take a final decision on the venue of the Kuwait match.

Technical committee chairman IM Vijayan, members Pinky Bompal Magar, Shabbir Ali, Victor Amalraj, Climax Lawrence, Santosh Singh, Chief Technical Officer Vincent Subramaniam and Technical Director Sabir Pasha were also present in the meeting.

“I would like to tell the head coach that the result in Qatar is now a thing of the past. Our main focus should be on the upcoming matches in the March and June FIFA window and we should get the best possible results in them,” Vijayan said.

Satyanarayan said, “We have seen the national team go through ups and downs last year, but we can be proud of our players and the effort they put in every time they are on the field. However, the area we should focus on is the grassroots “Play is continuing at this level, so that our national team can become stronger in the future.”

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