Holder India became the group champion as they beat pre-tournament favourite Maldives convincingly 2-0 in the last match of the Saff Suzuki Cup 2018 group stage at Bangabandhu National Stadium Sunday in Dhaka
Maldives qualified for the semi-final of the Saff Suzuki Cup in a fortuitous manner as they secured the runners-up position of Group B over Sri Lanka by the virtue of winning a coin toss.
Holder India became the group champion as they beat pre-tournament favourite Maldives convincingly 2-0 in the last match of the Saff Suzuki Cup 2018 group stage at Bangabandhu National Stadium Sunday in Dhaka.
Maldives and Sri Lanka played out a goalless draw when they met each other Friday and the latter lost to India 2-0 in the first match of the group.
With those results, both Maldives and Sri Lanka had the same number of points, goal difference and goals scored so a coin toss was required to separate the sides in accordance with the by-laws of the tournament.
Chinese Taipei match commissioner Chen Liang-Chen conducted the all-important affair in the presence of both the Maldives and Sri Lankan captains after the day’s game.
Despite the loss in the game, Maldives coach Peter Segrt was relieved with the outcome of the coin toss as he mentioned the word “luck” more than thrice at the post-match presser.
Bangladesh goalkeeper Shahidul Alam Sohel committed a blunder as the home side exited the Saff Championship after suffering a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Nepal at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka Saturday.https://t.co/xFV3P53bHC#BANGLADESH #NEPAL #BFF #FOOTBALL #SAFF— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) September 8, 2018
He also felt sorry for host Bangladesh as they were eliminated from the group stage on the previous day despite earning six points from Group A.
After all those drama, India and Pakistan are all set to face each other in the second semi-final of the event Wednesday while Maldives will take on Group A champion Nepal in the first semi-final on the same day.
India head coach Stephen Constantine made as many as five changes from the 2-0 win against Sri Lanka four days ago to field a 5-3-2 formation with Manvir Singh and Faruk Choudhury up front against Maldives.
Segrt brought all his three changes in the forward-line with Abdulla Asadhulla replacing Ali Fasir as lone striker.
Constantine’s side began the game brightly with their midfielder Mohamed Arif hitting the woodwork in the ninth minute and another opportunity came up two minutes later when Nikhil headed over the bar following a cross from defender Jerry Lalrinzuala.
Maldives midfielder Mohamed Irufan tried his luck with a left-footer from a goalmouth scramble in the 31st minute but the effort was blocked.
Pakistan all but secured a place in the semi-final of the Saff Suziki Cup 2018 after sending Bhutan out of the tournament with a 3-0 defeat in their third and final Group A match at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka Saturday afternoon.https://t.co/pCiQgK1UOO#SAFF #PAKISTAN— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) September 8, 2018
Left-winger Nikhil Chandra Shekhar gave India the lead in the 36th minute after a quick one-to-one with Faruk Chowdhury.
Nikhil drifted into the penalty area to collect Faruk’s brilliant through pass before chipping home into the right side of the onrushing keeper.
Striker Manvir Singh doubled the lead eight minutes later placing the ball into an empty net after beating the Maldives netminder Mohamed Faisal on a one-on-one at the bottom of the box.
Maldives were desperate to score as that would have ensured their semi-final berth but they failed to get into the scoresheet due to a lack of finishing touches up front.
Maldives forward Ibrahim Mahudhee Hussain got a header in the 86th minute at the middle of the box but couldn’t trouble the opponent defence.
Constantine was not a happy man despite his side’s similar margin win over Sri Lanka in their first match but the English coach looked satisfied with the latest performance of his young troop against Maldives.
Pre-tournament favourite Maldives made a shocking start in the ongoing Saff Championship 2018 as Sri Lanka held them to a goalless draw in their Group B encounter at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka Friday.https://t.co/AnOqQhlFJM#SAFFCHAMPIONSHIP #MALDIVES #SRILANKA #SAFF— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) September 7, 2018
India 2 (Nikhil 36, Manvir 44) 0 Maldives
India Stats Maldives
10 Shots 14
7 Shots on target 4
62 Possession % 38
33 Passes 218
70 Pass accuracy % 50
8 Fouls 7
1 Yellow cards 0
1 Offsides 0
6 Corners 7
Teams P W D L GD Pts
India 2 2 0 0 4 6
Maldives 2 0 1 1 -2 1
Sri Lanka 2 0 1 1 -2 1