Football

Sunil Chhetri Retires: India Share Spoils With Kuwait In Captain's Swansong

Chhetri retired as the most decorated Indian footballer of all time and ended his international career after making 151 appearances and scoring 94 goals, along with providing 11 assists

Sunil Chhetri in the final match against Kuwait. AIFF Media
Sunil Chhetri trying to get hold of the ball during his farewell match against Kuwait. Photo: AIFF Media
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Riddled with half-cooked passes, heavy touches, poor runs and missed chances, India played out a goalless draw against visiting Kuwait at one of football's hallowed grounds on Thursday. (As It Happened)

The occasion, a FIFA World Cup 2026 and AFC Asian Cup 2027 joint-qualification match at Salt Lake Stadium, Kolkata -- with the national team's 'future' on stake but the fixture was all about one man. Sunil Chhetri, a legend game of the game, graced the turf, and the result hardly mattered.

Chhetri retired as the most decorated Indian footballer of all time and ended his international career after making 151 appearances and scoring 94 goals, along with providing 11 assists.

India desperately needed a win against Kuwait when the two teams met for the second round of the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers from Group A. Although India had some opportunities, they failed to convert them, resulting in a draw as no player from either team was able to score a goal.

In the points table, India stood strong in the second position with five points in five matches whereas Kuwait moved one place up replacing Afghanistan from the third place. Qatar are at the top with 12 points.

Indian captain Sunil Chhetri couldn't produce his usual 'magic' as he missed several chances. In the 11th minute, Liston Colaco made a great run past the Kuwaiti defender and passed the ball, hoping it would reach Chhetri, but he had already made his run.

Anwar Ali's header in the next minute narrowly missed the net. Following that, the Blue Tigers appeared sloppy at times, with most players looking tired. Sahal Abdul Samad and Lallianzuala Chhangte performed well.

Edmund Lalrindika made his Indian debut when he came on as a substitute for Jay Gupta in the 83rd minute of the match. He is the first I-League player to make his Indian debut in five years. The last player to achieve this was Salam Ranjan Singh.

Edmund received India's first yellow card in the match just 10 minutes after making his debut when he fought with Al-Sanea over the ball on the touchline.

India's finest footballer bid farewell to the sport with a goalless draw against Kuwait in the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifier match despite an additional seven minutes in the second half.

India will Qatar in their upcoming second-round match on Tuesday, 11th June 2024 in Doha, Qatar. This game will mark the first international match in 19 years without Sunil Chhetri's participation.

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