Maldives and Sri Lanka shared the honours in a goalless draw in the group B of the SAFF Suzuki Cup at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on 7 September Friday.
The draw saw India who beat Sri Lanka 2-0 secure a semifinal spot from the three team group.
Sri Lanka who began the tournament with the defeat against India had no choice apart from a win. A defeat meant the exit for them. Keeping in mind that a loss means they will be the first team to depart Sri Lanka adopted a defensive strategy depending upon the counter attacks.
Maldives inserted four forwards in Ali Fasir, Hamza Mohammad, Hasan Naiz and Ibrahim Hasan Waheed demonstrating their attacking intentions. The first half saw a one-way traffic as the Maldives attackers knit a web around the Sri Lankan box but being frustrated with the dogged approach of the Sri Lankan defence led by goalie Sujan Perera who plays for Maldives outfit New Eagles perhaps were aware of his opponent’s prowess.
Sujan Perera was a busy man from the very outset when he denied Ibrahim Hasan whose venomous header on a Hasan Naiz corner was heading towards the net in the 3rd minute.
Ali Fasir was cursing the lady luck in the 16th minute when his low free kick beat Sujan Perera in the near post but rebounded from the sidepost.
Maldives skipper Akram Abdel Ghani curved a free kick from the top of the box that was taken well by Sujan Perera.
Sri Lanka after absorbing the pressure came out of the shell and was frustrated to see forward Asela Madhusan’s solo effort strike ruled out for an off-side.
Hasan Naiz broke free in the 26th minute and was in a one to situation to Sujan Perera but the Sri Lankan goalie won the duel taking control of the ball.
The story continued in the second half but Maldives was ruing the opportunity in the 56th minute with Ali Fasir sending a swinging cut back that beat the defence but Mohammed Irufan failed to tap the ball in into the open net.
But Sri Lanka showed they have saved their best for the last stage tormenting Maldives with a series of attacks. They tore the Maldives defence apart, did all except finding the net. In the 65th minute Ashikur Rahman unleashed a cracking 35 yarder that was gripped by Faisal when looping in. In the 73rd minute Kavindu Ishan saw his right footer sail over the crosspiece.
In the 82nd minute Asela Madhusan shot straight to Faisal from the right edge of the box and Kavindu also did the same on the re-bounder. Kavindu let his team down again in the following minute after he dented his hard work down the right slank shooting in the near post instead of placing the ball into the open far post. The last failure of the day was staged byAshikur Rahman who with all of the time in the middle of the box placed the ball over.
Maldives play India on Sunday while Sri Lanka who finished their two matches have to wait for the proceedings.