Maldives though losing the last match of the group B to India 2-0 reached the semifinal of the SAFF Suzuki Cup courtesy of the toss at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on September 9 Sunday.
India who earlier beat Sri Lanka 2-0 emerged as the group champions as but the by-laws a toss was used to choose the other semifinalists from the group. The lady luck favoured Maldives and Sri Lanka was sent packing.
Earlier in the match India was the superior team and they ran away with a deserved victory with a controlled game.
Akram Abdul Ghanee, the Maldives skipper tried his luck with a 35 yard looping drive in the 11th minute but Indian custodian Vishak Kaith’s vigilant eyes enabled him to punch it over the crosspiece.
In the 12th minute India hit back with a counter attack with Anirudh Thapa darting down the midfield before curving a cross to overlapping defender Ranjan Singh Salam whose diving header flew over the woodwork.
India displaying their usual cool and composed approach took the lead in the 37th minute with tall forward Nikhil Chandrashekhar drawing the first blood. The forward produced a speedy run through the defence playing one-two with Faruk Haji Kasam Chowdhury and tapped the ball past Maldives custodian Mohamed Faisal from the edge of the eight yard box (1-0)
India’s grip on the match was further extended in the last minute of the first half when Lallianzuala Changte beat his marker to cut a through pass to onrushing forward Manvir Singh who raced past the onrushing Maldives goalie Faisal before placing the ball into the far post net (2-0)
Maldives had a chance to reduce the margin in the last minute of the added time but forward Ibrahim Mahmudee saw his placing whisker past the sidepost
Maldives with their wide running game appeared lacking the bite to pilfer the Indian defence with their efforts losing way at the edge of the box.
Both the teams saw some sporadic chances came in their way but those efforts either went straight to the goalkeepers or off the target. Among them Manvir Singh’s drive in the 78th and substitute Maldives forward Ali Fasir’s run a few minutes later were notable. Ali Fasir saw his low free kick from the left edge of the box saved for a corner by a diving Vishal Kaith.
With the score locked 2-0 the match went to the toss where Maldives prevailed.
Nepal and Maldives will play the first semifinal on Wednesday while India will lock horns with Pakistan in the second semifinal the same day.