India were held by 10-men Bangladesh 1-1 in their opening encounter and it was followed by an equally, if not more disappointing goalless draw against Sri Lanka.
India then beat Nepal 1-0 and that was followed by a resounding 3-1 against the hosts Maldives which guaranteed them a place in the final.
Head-to-Head vs Nepal
In 22 matches against Nepal, India have lost just twice to their neighbours but the contest has been a bit more competitive in recent times. In the last eleven encounters between the two team, India have won seven times, there have been three draws and a Nepali victory.
Interestingly, the two teams had played two back-to-back international friendlies in Kathmandu in the first week of September where India had won the second match 2-1, after having drawn the first.
Despite being the favourties, the mood, in the Indian camp is not much willing to get into a celebration mode. Stimac and Co understand that nothing has been won as yet, and the next 90 minutes can always be extremely cruel.
The worst performance for seven-time champions India before this edition of SAFF Championship was the third-place finish in 2003 and the country has either won or finished runners-up in 11 previous editions and hence Stimac knows the enormity of the challenge ahead. "We know them very well and have played twice against them. It's an open game and if we play well, and do it right on the pitch, I am sure that we can win the game. There is no other option for us than to go out there and win it," the Croat stated.
Chhetri the talisman
Chhetri came to the rescue of the team in the group phase encounter against Nepal scoring the decisive goal to equal the legendary Pele, but the question is how long the country will keep relying on the old warhorse to find the opposition net.
The 37-year-old later added a brace to surpass the Brazilian legend during the win against Maldives and all said and done his form will hold the key to the Indian team's fortunes.