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SAFF Championship Football 2021: India vs Maldives: Match Time, Head to Head, TV Channel, Live Streaming info

Indian football

Bengaluru, October 13: India face hosts Maldives in their last round-robin league match of the SAFF Championships in Male on Wednesday (October 13) knowing well that nothing less than a win will save them from elimination.

The match to be played at the National Football Stadium in Male will kick off at 9.30pm IST and the Indian fans can catch all the action live on Eurosport SD/HD channels.

A draw or a loss will send India out of reckoning for the final of the regional tournament and that will be the worst result for India in recent memory, which could also raise questions about head coach Igor Stimac's continuation at the helm of affairs.

With the football crazy Maldivians likely to play the role of 12th man in the field on Wednesday, the onus is on Stimac and his men to avert the country's worst football ignominy in a long time.

The worst performance for seven-time champions India before this edition was the third-place finish in 2003 and the country has either won or finished runners-up in 11 previous editions.

All the four top sides in the five-team tournament are still in contention for the final of the tournament to be held on Saturday (October 16).

Not so easy

Not so easy

With five points from two draws and one win, India are currently at third place below Maldives (six points from three matches) and Nepal (six points from three matches).

Nepal play Bangladesh (fourth place with four points) in an earlier kick off on Wednesday. Two-time and defending champions Maldives have never been easy opponents for India in the history of this regional tournament though the island country sits 51 ranking points below India in FIFA chart at 158th.

Difficult team

Difficult team

The side led by veteran Ali Ashfaq, one of the best strikers in the region, have regrouped themselves after losing their opening match against Nepal, beating Bangladesh 2-0 and Sri Lanka 1-0.

Just like India captain Sunil Chhetri, the 36-year-old Ashfaq has carried Maldives football on his shoulders for a long time and he has scored two of his side's three goals in this tournament. He will, no doubt, be the man India will have to be wary about.

Chhetri the saviour

Chhetri the saviour

India felt the absence of experienced Sandesh Jhingan in deep defence as they could not defend a 1-0 lead against 10-man Bangladesh who scored a late equaliser despite numerical inferiority. In the second match against 205th-ranked Sri Lanka, Indian forwards, including Chhetri, had an off day as they could not create enough chances and also failed to finish whatever few scoring opportunities they had for a 0-0 draw.

Chhetri came to the rescue of the team once again against Nepal, scoring the decisive goal to equal the legendary Pele in the previous match, but the question is how long the country will keep relying on a 37-year-old warhorse to find the opposition net.

Stimac confident

Stimac confident

Understandably, Stimac has rued the inability of his forwards to convert the scoring chances. "We need to improve our scoring from the chances which we're creating," he said.

"It's simple, if we do that, games become very easy. Otherwise you need to suffer till the end, or even beyond the end," the Croat added, still believing that his side can reach the summit clash.

(With PTI/AIFF inputs)

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Story first published: Wednesday, October 13, 2021, 10:39 [IST]
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