India won the SAFF Championships for the ninth time on Tuesday, beating Kuwait 5-4 in a dramatic penalty shootout after both teams were poised 1-1 after 120 minutes. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, India’s goalkeeper, stopped a critical penalty attempt in the summit showdown, helping India defeat Kuwait 5-4 in the shootout.
The score remained 4-4 after five rounds of penalty kicks, thus the sudden death system was used. Mahesh Naorem scored, but a diving Sandhu stopped Kuwait captain Khaled Hajiah’s effort, sparking wild celebrations were there among Indian supporters and in the Indian dugout. Defending champions India and Kuwait had also drawn 1-1 in their previous group encounter.
Shabaib Al Khaldi put Kuwait ahead in the 14th minute of normal time until Lallianzuala Chhangte levelled in the 39th. This was India’s second victory in a penalty shootout. They advanced to the final match after defeating Lebanon 4-2 in a penalty shootout in the semifinals on July 1. Sandhu had also made an important stop in the shootout at the time.
The action continued to flow heavily and quickly in the second half as both India and Kuwait sought the winner. Both teams came close to scoring their respective second goals but were unable to do so as the game went into extra time for the second time in a row for both. Both teams engaged in exciting play during the extra time. There were a few injuries, yellow cards for both teams and officials and a swarm of corners. However, the game-winning goal failed to materialize, necessitating a penalty shootout to determine the winner.
Only two goals were conceded by India in nine matches, and only one opponent scored past an Indian goalie in the recent month – Kuwait’s Shabaib Al Khaldi in the SAFF Championship final. In fact, Kuwait was the only side against whom India failed to preserve a clean sheet. In the last month, India scored 12 goals in nine matches. Stimac will be concerned about the conversion rate, which will undoubtedly be addressed. India had 75 shots in the SAFF Championship but only scored eight goals.
Here’s how fans reacted
Sad truth https://t.co/QQFUkuIHbM
— Adithyan Vp (@adithynvp) July 4, 2023
That’s the way it should be. There isn’t any better way!!!
— Prateek Shukla (@IamPratique) July 4, 2023
Gurpreeth's incredible. He's the major reason for this success as he bailed the team out in the semis and the finals!
— Finny (@FinnysUtopia) July 5, 2023
Build football specific grounds, not the athletic stadiums the team currently plays in.
— Finny (@FinnysUtopia) July 4, 2023
Well Done Team India 🇮🇳❤️
— Dr Khushboo 🇮🇳 (@khushbookadri) July 4, 2023
— Vikram JAIN (@vikramcjain) July 4, 2023
Hearty congratulations ❤️
— Vijay Thottathil (@vijaythottathil) July 4, 2023
Congratulations. Keep going. Target big tournaments✌
— Cricmens (@cricmens) July 4, 2023