Kuwait City, November 19

I

ndian football team centre-back Sandesh Jhingan, praised the entire team for their efforts as the Blue Tigers secured a narrow victory against Kuwait in the opening game of the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers at the Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait City on Thursday.

The Blue Tigers secured a hard-fought victory over Kuwait away from home, breaking the deadlock with a solid finish from Manvir Singh in the 75th minute, connecting perfectly with a Lallianzuala Chhangte cross.

Despite drawing in their previous two encounters during the SAFF Championships earlier in the year, India faced a tough challenge on foreign soil and managed to not only secure three points but also maintain a clean sheet, with Jhingan playing a crucial role in leading the defence.

Reflecting on the result, Jhingan expressed happiness for the win but cautioned against excessive celebration, urging his team to stay focused as they brace themselves for an even more formidable challenge against reigning AFC Asian Cup champions, Qatar, on Tuesday.

"It was very important to start on a winning note. I'm really proud of the team and of how we stepped up to the occasion. Kuwait are always a difficult side, and more so when you're playing away. We put on a strong and mature performance, but we cannot celebrate too much, get carried away, or think too big of ourselves," Jhingan said in an interview with the-aiff.com.

"We have another game in a few days, so it's all about recovery. We just have to keep going. It's just the first game. Let's keep getting better, dreaming big, and make the work bigger than your dream," he added.

India had faced challenges away from home earlier in the year, failing to secure a win at the King's Cup and Merdeka Cup tournaments. Despite doubts surrounding their performance in Kuwait, Igor Stimac's side showcased resilience and strength. Jhingan highlighted the significance of playing in those games and how it helped them in Kuwait.

"The weight of the tournament makes a difference. We gave a good account of ourselves in Thailand (King's Cup). The Malaysia game (Merdeka Tournament) was, we can say, one-off day after a long time. Of course, we were disappointed to lose there, but those games are to learn lessons. The whole point of friendlies is to learn from them to prepare for big games like these," Jhingan explained.

Really proud of team and how we stepped up: Sandesh Jhingan on win in opening game of the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers

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