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India dominated a physical Kuwaiti side, yet found themselves ousted due to the host’s gritty defense and resolve...

India’s U-16 tigers have been beaten 2-1 in their last Asian Football Confederation’s (AFC) Cup qualifiers, by Kuwait and as a result have finished third in their group. This ends all their hopes of qualification for the tournament.

Playing against a physically tempered Kuwait side at the hosts’ Al-Sabah stadium in Kuwait City, India found themselves a goal down as early as the eighth minute when Khaled Alenezi took advantage of a long ball and scored past Dheeraj Singh in the Indian goal. From thereon in it was all India as they began to grasp the game at the scruff of the neck.

Anirudh Thapa, Prosenjit Chakraborty and Nuruddin’s efforts were especially commendable as India desperately looked to gain back the initiative from the hosts. Yet, against the flow of play, Kuwait FC scored from the penalty spot, which was given due to a Dheeraj Singh infringement on Alenezi.

After the half-time interval, India poured forward into the Kuwaiti half and remained encamped there for the rest of the half as they launched wave after wave of attack. Nuruddin was playing particularly well on the right wing causing all sorts of havoc.

Finally second-half substitute Krishna Pandit, pulled one back for the visitors in the 64th minute. The Kuwaiti defense was finally intersected. However that’s as good as it got for the Indians as the resolution of the Kuwaiti’s increased and they held on till the death with  a slender one goal advantage.

The Indians can be proud of their achievement.

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