SAFF Cup: India Defeats Maldives 2-0, To Face Arch-Rivals Pakistan In Semi-Final

| September 10 , 2018 , 18:08 IST

The Indian football team stunned the Maldives with a scoreline of 2-0 to book a semi-final clash with arch-rivals Pakistan in the South Asian Football Federation Cup, held in Dhaka on Sunday.

The semi-final match which will be the first official meeting of the two teams after a span period of five years which will be played at Bangabandhu Stadium on September 12th.

The maiden international goals from Nikhil Poojary (36th minute) and Manvir Singh (45th minute) helped India to finish on pole position in Group B with 6 points.

The last time the two teams had met in an official match was also in a SAFF Championship which was held in Kathmandu in September 2013 and eventually, India went on to win the match by 1-0.

Nikhil could have scored the opening goal in the 11th minute itself but despite getting all the power behind his header off a cross from Anirudh Thapa, it sailed over Maldives crossbar.

Indian players Nikhil and Lallianzuala Chhangte were constantly swapping positions on the wings and that stretched the rival defence. India had surged ahead in the 36th minute of the match.

ALSO READ: SAFF Cup: India Beat Sri Lanka 2-0 To Start On A High

Nikhil played a one-two with Farukh and as the rival defender despite intercepting it fumbled a bit, but the Indian player was good enough to pounce on the loose ball and placed it delectably past the rival Goalkeeper Mohamed Faisal.

Meanwhile, Manvir doubled the lead almost at the stroke of the interval. Thapa, a bit off-balanced with a rival midfielder shadowing him, managed to essay a gem of a pass for Manvir who sidestepped the onrushing Faisal and pushed it in.

Changing over, Nikhil stayed a constant threat to the Maldives defence all throughout. In the 64th minute, a cross from him down the right was averted by an acrobatic Faisal.

While the Maldives continuously looked to reduce the margin and had not Jerry Lalrinzuala intercepted in the 73rd minute, they could have had a shot at the Indian goal.

The Indian defenders did not allow much for the opponents and in the 78th-minute alert, Indian Goalkeeper Vishal Kaith was quick to come off his line, in fact, outside the box to clear in time. Kaith's reflexes allowed India to maintain a clean slate, the lanky custodian coming up with a couple of saves in the last five minutes.  

Aakash Dubey

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