The Blue Tigers have been going excellent in the ongoing SAFF Championship 2018 and are on the way to successfully defending the title. They will be facing Maldives in the final day of the tournament on 15th of September.
The Indian team is the only unbeaten side in the tournament. India won both their group stage games with a 2-0 scoreline against Sri Lanka and against Maldives itself.
However, head coach Stephen Constantine is little concerned about the team’s performance as the Indian team was not convincing in their wins and should have easily scored more goals in these two matches.
They faced the Pakistani side in the Semifinal game and that is when the entire team became alive. It was a very tight encounter when neither of the sides could score any goal in the first half of the game. Pakistan’s goal keeper Yusuf Butt showed some acrobatic saves to secure the net from Indians on multiple occasions.
One of the attractions of the tournament, Manvir Singh, scored a brace in the 49th minute of 2nd half.
The 68th minute substitute Lalliazula Chhangte ran down the middle, sidestepped two defenders and gave a perfectly waited pass to Vinit Rai, who just had to roll the ball towards Manvir, who blasted it home for India’s 2nd goal in the 69th minute from the edge of the box. However, following a rough challenge, Manvir had to be substituted for Sumeet Passi.
Manvir Singh was deservedly named the Most Valuable Player on the day. Indian keeper Vishal Kaith was also good as usual and the best part about the match against Pakistan was that each player contributed to the win.
Sumeet Passi netted the third goal for India in the 84th minute with a sublime header from a pitch-perfect cross from Ashique from the left flank. It was also Passi’s birthday and he could not have asked for a better gift. The Blue Tigers now had a three-goal cushion and ensured they are in an excellent position to win comfortably.
In the 86th minute of the game Chhangte got into a hustle with Mohsin Ali off the ball and both the players were given marching orders. It was a matter of young blood but the Indian needs to show more discipline and play with composure.
Hasan Bashir scored the consolation goal for Pakistan in the 87th minute. The Pakistani team needs to be lauded for their efforts as they made it to the semifinals in some style after being dormant from International football for some time.
Maldives, on the other hand, also had an eventful semifinal as they defeated Nepal 3-0. The Maldivian players looked in great knick as Nepal is no easy team to defeat and to do it with such a margin is commendable. The upcoming final match of the SAFF Championship promises to be a nail-biter. The Maldivian side played with tremendous grit and determination to reach the final.
Ibrahim Waheed Hassan scored a brace for Maldives in the semifinal and he is one player Indian defenders will need to mark closely as he is lethal when given space.
India defeated Maldives 2-0 in the group stage game but playing in the final is a different ball game all together so it will be interesting to see if the young Indian players, being led by Subhashish Bose, can handle the pressure to clinch the trophy on Saturday at Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka. Source:https://www.sportskeeda.com/football/saff-championship-2018-final-india-vs-maldives-preview-when-and-where-to-watch-on-tv-date-and-time