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Heartbreak for Sunil Chhetri in farewell game as India vs Kuwait FIFA World Cup Qualifiers clash ends in draw

In an emotional farewell match, India's iconic football captain Sunil Chhetri experienced heartbreak as the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers clash between India and Kuwait ended in a draw. The Indian team fought valiantly, but despite their efforts, they couldn't secure a win to honor Chhetri's illustrious career.

Heartbreak for Sunil Chhetri in farewell game as India vs Kuwait FIFA World Cup Qualifiers clash ends in draw osf
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First Published Jun 6, 2024, 9:08 PM IST

Sunil Chhetri faced heartbreak as India and Kuwait battled to a draw in their FIFA World Cup Qualifiers clash. Despite a spirited performance, the Indian team couldn't clinch a victory to mark the end of their legendary captain's international career, leaving fans and players with mixed emotions.

Also Read: Sunil Chhetri gets guard of honour as he bids adieu to international football after 19 yrs; WATCH viral video

The match saw India and Kuwait play to a 0-0 draw in their FIFA World Cup qualifier at Kolkata's Salt Lake Stadium on Thursday. The hosts squandered numerous opportunities in the first half, with Anwar Ali nearly scoring. The second half became a tight contest, with neither team managing to break the deadlock. India will now face Qatar in their final fixture of this round, needing a win to advance.

For a country that lacks major football success, it was not the ideal farewell for a player who had transformed the sport's landscape in India.

A win would have almost guaranteed India (with five points) a spot in the third round of World Cup qualifiers for the first time. However, the draw leaves them in a tough position, needing a victory against Asian champions Qatar in their final match on June 11 to progress.

If India fails to beat Qatar, Kuwait, currently with four points, can advance to the third round by defeating Afghanistan on June 11.

Chhetri, 39, concluded his illustrious 19-year international career as the fourth-highest scorer in international football, with 94 goals, trailing only behind Cristiano Ronaldo (128), Ali Daei (108), and Lionel Messi (106).

This achievement is remarkable for an Indian player, and FIFA acknowledged Chhetri's legendary status when he announced his international retirement on May 16.

Chhetri bid an emotional farewell at the packed 68,000-capacity Salt Lake Stadium, surrounded by his parents Kharga and Sushila, wife Sonam Bhattacharya, and numerous officials and former players.

He will continue to play club football for "two more years" with a contract at Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League until next year.

Chhetri had scored in his debut match against Pakistan on June 12, 2005, which ended in a 1-1 draw, but did not score on Thursday.

After his 151st match for India, Chhetri took a final lap of honour with folded hands as fans chanted "Sunil, Sunil."

Kuwait showed improvement from their previous 0-1 defeat to India. The first half saw numerous chances for both teams but ended scoreless, keeping fans on edge.

Kuwait's best opportunity came in the fourth minute, but a crucial save from Indian goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu denied Mohammad Daham. India responded in the 11th minute, but Chhetri's attempt was thwarted by a sliding clearance.

Anwar Ali's header from the ensuing corner narrowly missed, and further chances from both teams went unconverted. Despite a spirited effort, India couldn't capitalize on their opportunities.

India now faces a challenging match against Qatar, with their World Cup qualifying hopes hanging in the balance.

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