By a Staff Reporter
Kathmandu – The hosts, India, showcased their dominance once again as they secured their 9th SAFF Championship title by defeating invitees Kuwait 5-4 in an exhilarating penalty shootout.
Kuwait took an early lead in the 14th minute when Shabaib A Sh T Alkhaldi, found the back of the net at Sree Kanteerava Stadium. However, Igor Stimac’s side quickly rallied and leveled the match in the 39th minute. Lallianzuala Chhangte expertly tapped in to cancel out Kuwait’s lead, bringing the teams back on level terms.
With neither team able to find a breakthrough during regulation time, the match headed into extra time. Despite the added 30 minutes of play, no goals were scored, leading the match into a nerve-wracking penalty shootout.
In the shootout, the defending champions India proved to be fortunate, outplaying their Kuwaiti counterparts with a final score of 5-4. India’s goalkeeper, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, emerged as a hero as he saved Khalid El Ebrahim’s crucial shootout attempt in the sudden death phase.
Gurpreet’s save propelled India to their 9th SAFF Championship title, solidifying their position the most successful team in the tournament’s history.