Coupled with their earlier 3-1 success against Egypt, today’s victory was sufficient to guarantee a spot in the knockout phase and leave Kuwait facing near-certain elimination. The Asian newcomers actually enjoyed the better of the early chances, but they were undone by the class and composure of Serbia’s No10 Mladen Kocic during a tousy first half.
It was Kocic who provided the breakthrough on seven minutes, turning his marker inside-out before side-footing coolly beyond the helpless Hani Mhisen. Kuwait threw on an outfield player, Abdulraham Altawail, in place of their keeper but, though their attacking adventure was to be applauded, it did not have the desired effect. Instead, Serbia went into the break 3-0 up after Kocic smashed home his second from a short free-kick and Vladimir Lazic slid in to convert Alexsandar Zivanovic’s well judged cross.
Kuwait began the second half in determined fashion and an early goal from Ahmad Alfarsi following a goalkeeping fumble offered hope that a comeback might just be possible. However, this flicker of hope was quickly extinguished after another opportunist strike from Lazic and a slick counter-attack rounded off by Slobodan Racjevic put the Serbians out of sight.
There was still time for Vidan Bojovic and the towering captain Bojan Pacivevic to add to the scoreline, with these goals coming either side of Alfarsi’s second of the match, which proved of little consolation for Kuwait.
"The first five minutes were great, but Serbia found their way into the game through their strong defence. When we conceded the first goal were started to become very nervous. That's why I brought in the fifth [outfield] player, to calm the players down,"
Luis Fonseca, Kuwait coach.
"I was very happy with our performance, especially as it was an unusual match with Kuwait playing all five players outfield. We handled that well and are very happy to be assured of going through. Our motivation will remain high for our third match though - we want to top the group," Aca Kovacevic, Serbia coach