NEW DELHI: A determined Team India edged Kuwait in a tense penalty shootout to clinch a record ninth
title in Bengaluru on Tuesday.
India finished with a score-line of 5-4 in the shoot-out after both sides were deadlocked 1-1 in 120 minutes in the summit clash.
After five rounds of penalty kicks the score-line remained 4-4 as sudden-death came into play.
Mahesh Naorem scored for India in the sudden death while India goalkeeper
Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
saved Khaled Hajiah’s shot to help the team secure a thrilling win.
In the regulation time, Shabaib Al Khaldi had put Kuwait in the lead in the 14th minute before
equalised in the 39th minute.
As It Happened
Defending champion India and Kuwait had also played out a 1-1 draw in their last group match.
This was the second time India won in the penalty shootout. They had made it to Tuesday’s summit clash after beating Lebanon 4-2 in penalty shootout in the semifinal on July 1. Sandhu had also made a crucial save in the shootout then.
For India, captain
, Sandesh Jhingan, Chhangte, Subasish Bose and Mahesh converted while Udanta Singh missed.
Before the shootout drama, Kuwait held a slight edge as they pressed forward for goals often in the first half.
The relentlessness fetched the desired result in the 14th minute. Mobarak Al Faneeni released Abullah Al Bloushi on the left wing with a deft pass. Al Bloushi found Shabaib Al Khaldi inside the box with an accurate cross which the latter slotted past India custodian Sandhu to give Kuwait 1-0 lead.
India could have levelled the scores within a minute but Kuwait goalkeeper Abdul Rahman blocked Chhangte’s long ranger.
But Chhangte, who was named AIFF Men’s Player of the Year on Tuesday, was not to be denied a second time in the 39th minute.
After a lovely exchange of passes between Sahal Abdul Samad and captain Chhetri, the latter found an unmarked Chhangte deep inside the box. Chhangte, India’s energetic No. 12, had little trouble in beating Abdul Rahman to find the equaliser.
It atoned for Chhetri’s failure to score during the regulation time for the second match in a row to an extent.
In the second half, the action continued to flow thick and fast as both India and Kuwait searched for the winner.
Both sides came close to scoring their respective second goals, but unable to do that, as the match moved towards the extra time for the second successive time for both the teams.
The extra time too witnessed frenetic action from both the sides. There were couple of injuries, yellow cards to players and officials of both sides and a slew of corners.
But that the decisive goal did not come through, making a penalty shootout mandatory to pick the winner.