In­sipid In­dia suf­fer 1-2 loss to Mal­dives in SAFF Cup fi­nal

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - HTSPORTSMAX - Press Trust of In­dia

IN­DIA PROB­A­BLY PLAYED THE WORST MATCH OF THE TOUR­NA­MENT AF­TER EM­PHATIC WINS IN THE GROUP STAGE AND THE SEMI­FI­NAL.

DHAKA: Poor fin­ish­ing and scrappy de­fend­ing put paid to In­dia’s quest for an eighth South Asian Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion Cup ti­tle as it suf­fered a 1-2 de­feat against Mal­dives in the sum­mit clash here on Satur­day.

In­dia, the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons, largely dom­i­nated the match with bet­ter ball pos­ses­sion and more shots at the op­po­si­tion goal but the Mal­dives team scored from the few chances it got to lift the win­ners’ tro­phy for the sec­ond time. Mal­dives had also won the ti­tle in 2008 edi­tion which it co-hosted.

Ibrahim Mahud­hee Hus­sain and Ali Fasir scored in the 19th and 66th min­utes re­spec­tively for Mal­dives against the run of play. Sumeet Passi (90+2 minute) pulled one back for In­dia in the sec­ond minute of the in­jury time at the Banga­bandhu Sta­dium.

In­dia, field­ing an Un­der-23 side ex­cept for one player, was chas­ing its eight tri­umph in 12 edi­tions and its third back-to-back ti­tle. But its for­wards failed to put the ball on tar­get on sev­eral oc­ca­sions while the de­fend­ers lacked co­or­di­na­tion. In­dia had beaten Mal­dives 2-0 in the group stage.

The Stephan Con­stan­tinecoached In­dia prob­a­bly played the worst match of the tour­na­ment af­ter mak­ing em­phatic wins in the group stage and the semi-fi­nal.

In­dia were go­ing into the sum­mit clash with a lot of con­fi­dence af­ter an all-win record and hav­ing con­ceded just one goal in their ear­lier three matches.

In the fifth minute, Nikhil Poo­jary de­liv­ered a loop­ing ball to Salam Ranjan Singh who, how­ever, mist­imed his header to waste the chance.

It was, how­ever, Mal­dives who took the lead in the 19th minute with Ibrahim Mahud­hee Hus­sain’s right footed shot from the cen­tre of the box past Indian goal­keeper Vishal Kaith.

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