World Cup Qualifier: What went wrong for India against Kuwait (Analysis)

Kolkata, June 7 (IANS) On a night when India’s greatest servant was supposed to get his flowers, the Indian team hardly stepped up to the occasion. So the question arises, what went wrong on Sunil Chhetri’s big night? Was it the fact that there was no service from the midfield and the team was forced to rely on long balls against a team that had taller players? 

Or did Igor Stimac get it wrong, the Croatian was forced to make a double substitution after the first half which also saw Rahim Ali come on and get two clear chances which he failed to convert. It may be both or maybe none or maybe the answer lies much deeper.

Indian football has for a long time been in the ‘kiddie pool’ when it comes to their opposition. The team has undoubtedly progressed and made significant improvement during the tenure of Stimac. But the fact that remains is that Indian football has not been tested on a regular basis.

So maybe the answer to the question, ‘Where did it go wrong?’ boils down to the simple fact that the nerves got to the team.

From the opening moment, the game was evenly balanced and even though Kuwait created the better chances, the Blue Tigers were not far behind in terms of quality. But constant stray passes, losing the midfield battle, and the deliverance of the final ball were the reason why the team did not manage to get a solid grip on the game and were unable to apply constant pressure.

The goalless draw and sharing of the points may have been a step back for the team in their hopes of qualifying for the third round of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers but in the long run, Stimac has a great young team on his hands, one without an out a superstar and most importantly one that can be moulded into playing winning football.

In times like these, it is hard to look at the silver lining, and the team now no longer has its top scorer, but the fact remains — with Afghanistan drawing against Qatar, India remain second in the group and a win over Qatar could be on the cards.

In the end, it is as simple as how Stimac framed it in the post-game press conference, “It’s a small hope but it’s still there.”

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