SAFF Championship 2021: India beat Maldives 3-1 to reach final
India advanced into the final of the men’s football event in the SAFF Championship 2021 after a 3-1 win over the defending champions Maldives on Wednesday.
Indian forward Manvir Singh scored the opening goal for his side in the 32nd minute and just before halftime, Maldives were awarded a penalty and their captain Ali Ashfaq found the net to equal the score.
Meanwhile, Blue Tigers’ captain Sunil Chhetri, scored the deciding goal that confirmed India’s berth in the final.
The finalists will miss their left-back Subhasish Bose, who was already on a yellow card and was sent off the field after another foul in the 93rd minute of the game.
Earlier in the championship, the seven-time champions were struggling initially after they drew their first two matches against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. They needed a win against Nepal in their third contest to stay in the tournament and a victory over the Maldives to secure their berth in the final.
India finished at third place in 2003 and since then they have either won the event or have been the runner-ups.
Furthermore, the defending champions have never been easy opponents for India in the regional tournament, though they are 51 points behind India in the FIFA ranking chart at 158th.
Talking about the side’s dependency on Chhetri, Indian coach Igor Stimac said, “There is an old problem which is following us and that’s converting chances. We cannot be dependent on just one player and need to be more confident in front of goal.”
He added that they need to improve their scoring from the chances which we are creating. “It is simple, if we do that, games become very easy. Otherwise, you need to suffer till the end, or even beyond the end.”
Pakistan were ineligible to participate in the tournament after the Pakistan Football Federation was sanctioned by FIFA in April 2021.
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