SAFF Suzuki Cup
Maldives lift trophy second time beating India 2-1
The Maldives national football team clinched the second trophy of the SAFF Championship beating India by 2-1 margin on Saturday at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka.
The country of coral island clinched the first trophy of the event beating the same rivals by 1-0 goals in Colombo in 2008 SAFF Championship.
At the same venue, it was the second time the two rivals face each other in a SAFF Championship final. During the final in 2009, India defeated the rivals by 3-1 in the penalty shootout after the regular time saw a goalless draw.
So, it was also a revenge for the Maldives of the 2009 final.
The Maldives who were champions once had already faced seven times champions India in the group stage as both were in the same Group-B where India defeated the challengers by 2-0 margin.
On Saturday, the Maldives went ahead in the 19th minute when striker Ibrahim Mahudhee Hussain sent the ball home with a eye catching right footer from the centre of the box after receiving a timely delivery of fellow Hassan Naiz.
The winners doubled the lead in the 66th minute. Beating opponent custodian Vishal Kaith, Maldives striker Ali Fasir sent the ball over the grounded custodian and it entered home before any India defender could intercept.
Yet Sumit Passi reduced the margin scoring one goal for India in the injury time, India could not escape the defeat at the end.
Earlier, the Maldives, the luckiest team of SAFF Suzuki Cup, move to the semis without winning a single match. They had same one point and minus two goal difference just like Sri Lanka in the group stage and winning the toss they came to play the semi-final where they packed Nepal by 3-0 margin to play the final for the fifth time.
On the other hand, India confirmed the semis as the group champions with six points from two matches. Winning over archrival Pakistan by 3-1 margin, India came to play the final for the tenth time.
Before the match on Saturday, the two rivals had met for 11 times in different Asian events where India won eight and the Maldives won two matches.