Sunil Chhetri’s Last Dance: India’s Must-Win Match Against Kuwait

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Sunil Chhetri

As the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifiers unfold, all eyes are on the Indian football team’s must-win match against Kuwait. The spotlight, however, is on Sunil Chhetri, the talismanic leader of the Indian team. This match is not just another game for India; it marks the end of an era as Chhetri, after dominating the national football landscape for 19 years, will be playing his last international match.

Sunil Chhetri gears up for his farewell

Chhetri, who ranks fourth in international goal-scoring history, has been the backbone of the Indian team for nearly two decades. With 94 goals from 150 appearances and a dozen trophies in his cabinet, Chhetri’s contribution to Indian football is unparalleled.

The match against Kuwait is crucial for India’s World Cup dreams. Currently, India is in the second spot behind Qatar in Group A with four points from four games. A victory against Kuwait will put India firmly ahead of Afghanistan, who face Qatar in a tough fixture later on Thursday.

Chhetri, known for his leadership and goal-scoring prowess, will be the key player in this crucial match. His experience and ability to perform under pressure will be vital for India to secure a win. Despite the emotional weight of the occasion, Chhetri has downplayed his farewell and emphasized the importance of the match.

The match will be played at the Salt Lake Stadium, where Chhetri’s professional football career took shape with Mohun Bagan in the early 2000s. A packed crowd is expected at the stadium to celebrate Chhetri’s last dance.

Chhetri has happy memories against Kuwait, having played a key role in the equaliser by Sahal Abdul Samad that forced a penalty shootout and eventually a 5-4 triumph for India in the 2023 SAFF Championship in Bengaluru. That India had defeated Kuwait by a solitary goal from Manvir Singh in their group league opener in the away fixture in November last year will also be a morale-booster for Igor Stimac’s side.

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