• Friday, Jan 24, 2020
  • Last Update : 02:19 am

India trounce Pakistan to reach Saff final

  • Published at 10:28 pm September 12th, 2018
India's Manvir Singh scores during their Saff Championship semi-final against Pakistan in Dhaka Wednesday Dhaka Tribune/Md Manik

Young striker Manvir Singh carried on his fine scoring form from the previous game to net a superb brace, scoring in the either side of each half while substitute forward Sumeet Passi scored the other

Reigning champion India made it to the final for the seventh consecutive time after beating Pakistan convincingly 3-1 in the second semi-final of the Saff Suzuki Cup 2018 at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka Wednesday evening.

Young striker Manvir Singh carried on his fine scoring form from the previous game to net a superb brace, scoring in the either side of each half while substitute forward Sumeet Passi scored the other. 

With their third straight victory in as many matches, the most successful side in Saff history will face Maldives as favourite Saturday in the final. India beat Maldives 2-0 in their Group B encounter a few days back while the former also defeated the latter in their last final back in 2009 at BNS. 

Like the current edition, India sent their U-23 side in that tournament. 

This will be the fourth Saff final between the two countries and Maldives won only once in the previous three finals, when they clinched their only Saff title back in 2008 in Colombo by beating India 1-0.  

Indian head coach Stephan Constantine made a couple of changes in the starting XI in the semi-final as centre-back Sarthak Golui and midfielder Ashique Kuruniyan returned to replace defenders Jerry Lalrinzuala and Lallianzuala Chhangte.

Pakistan’s Brazilian coach José Antonio Nogueira kept his squad unchanged but couldn’t bring back enough momentum to test the Indian defence, as well as putting enough resistance at the back, like they did in their group stage matches.

India’s young troop dominated the game from the beginning. Midfielder Vinit Rai unleashed a powerful strike from 25 yards away in the 11th minute but Pakistan goalkeeper Ijaz Butt made a brilliant save, tipping away the effort for a corner.

Manvir almost gave the breakthrough in the 25th minute when his right-footer from the top of the box was saved by the keeper, following fine work by Faruk Choudhury, who outwitted defender Naveed Ahmad into the right side of the box. 

Butt fisted away Ashique Kuruniyan’s left-footer from the box to rescue his side once again two minutes later.

Pakistan earned an indirect free-kick at the edge of the six-yard box from where Ali’s effort was blocked. Muhammad Riaz’s shot from the top of the box after Qazi Nasir’s short pass forced the Indian custodian to make a decent save in the 38th minute. 

India went close to scoring a minute later when Faruk’s left-footer went inches wide off the far post.

India piled more pressure on the opponent after the break as Manvir finally gave the holder the lead three minutes into the second half after placing home into the near post from a tight angle, following Ashique’s low cross from the left side.

Manvir doubled the lead in the 69th minute, firing home into the near post from the right side of the box after fine build-up by Vinit and substitute left-back Chhangte.  

Forward Sumeet Passi made immediate impact after coming off the bench to seal victory in the 84th minute as he headed the inch-perfect cross from Ashique from an unmarked position inside the six-yard box to register his name in the scorecard.

Both the sides were reduced to 10 men in the 86th minute when Pakistan defender Mohsin Ali and Indian full-back Lallianzuala received red card for an off-the-ball clash.

Pakistan’s Denmark-based forward Hassan Bashir scored a consolation goal two minutes before the end of stipulated time with a grounder from 30 yards away after Sarthak cleared a long ball outside the box.

India will play their 10th final in the 11th edition of the Saff Championship while Pakistan are yet to qualify for the grand finale.


India 3 (Manvir 48, 69, Sumeet 84) 1 Pakistan (Bashir 88)

India    Stats        Pakistan

16    Shots        18

8    Shots on target7

56    Possession %    44

259    Passes        220

13    Fouls        6

2    Yellow cards    2

1    Red cards    1

1    Offsides    0

9    Corners    4