India win SAFF Championship for the 9th time

Igor Stimac’s side beat Kuwait on penalties in Bengaluru; Poojary, Gurmeet claim second cup

Bengaluru: The Indian National Team continued their winning run this summer, as they put in a fighting performance to beat Kuwait on penalties, after a hard-fought final at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru on Tuesday.

After yet another thrilling encounter, Kuwait and India played out a 1-1 draw in 120 minutes of football, with plenty of entertaining moments.

But there was little to separate the two sides and it was down to spot kicks to decide the title. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu made a couple of match-winning saves in the shoot-out that helped India maintain their unbeaten run this summer and lift the SAFF Championship trophy.

Hyderabad FC’s Nikhil Poojary, who is a mainstay in the first team, started each of the last four games and went on to play every minute of the colossal final, which was decided on penalties.

Gurmeet Singh, HFC’s No 1, was a part of the squad that lifted the trophy and will be full of confidence going into the new season. Former player Akash Mishra also put in a great shift throughout the tournament, having completed his transfer to Mumbai ahead of the competition.

India beat Pakistan and Nepal, and drew with Kuwait in the Group Stage of the tournament to set up a semi-final with Lebanon. Igor’s side needed penalties to beat Lebanon and step into the final and they repeated the feat just three days later, taking home the trophy for the ninth time in their history.

This takes India’s unbeaten run to 11 games.

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