Dhaka, September 15: Overconfidence probably hurt India as they lost 1-2 to Maldives and surrendered the SAFF Suzuki Cup title at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka on Saturday (September 15).
Two goals in either halves pegged India back, who only struck in added time. Ibrahim Hussain struck in the 19th minute and Ali Fasir doubled the Islanders' lead in the 73rd. For India, Sumeet Passi struck in the first minute of injury time.
The Indians, however, started on a positive note but a couple of brilliantly executed counter attacks and a resilient defensive display from the Islanders shattered the defending champions' dream of clinching their record eighth SAFF title.
India continued to push Maldives to their limit until they scored against the run of the play in the 19th minute. On a quick counter-attacking move, Naiz Hussain played a deft delivery to Ibrahim Hussain only to see him gleefully score the opener before the 20-minute mark.
India, in their pursuit of the equaliser, came close quite a few times but the attackers were missing the finesse in front of the opposition goal.
Disastrous result for Indian football team. Failed to defend their #SaffCup title after losing to maldives in final by 2-1. Unexpected, shocking & huge set back to say the least#SAFFSuzukiCup #SaffSuzukiCup2018 #INDvMDV pic.twitter.com/9GBsmc17wU— Sayan (@Tweets_by_Sayan) September 15, 2018
On the half-hour mark, Ashique delivered a low cross from the left flank directed to Farukh, who lost his balance to lose the opportunity. On the resultant corner, Subhasish Bose jumped to head it home but the Maldivian goalie Mohamed Faisal fisted the danger away. One minute later, Manvir Singh latched on another attack but it rippled the side-netting.
Maldives doubled their lead in the 68th minute only to add a pinch of salt to India's wounds. On another quick counter-attacking move, Hamzath Mohamed outran the Indian defence line to glide it on to an onrushing Ali Fasir, who poked it home to send the Maldives bench into a rupture.
Unbelievable! I understand it was our 2nd string side but they should be beating a team like Maldives. A lot of these players are in contention to goto AFC Asian Cup next year. We should have won this one. Coach to be blamed? Players to be blamed? Or the system itself? #INDvMDV— Waseem Ahmed (@Waseem_Ahmed11) September 15, 2018
Subhasish got another appealing chance to breach the Maldivian defense from a well-taken corner by Hitesh in the 79th minute. He was left completely unmarked and a tap-in could have done the trick for India but the skipper mistimed it.
Passi sprung some life into the game, having scored a goal for India in the added time but it was too late to deny the inevitable. On a cross from the right wing by Nikhil Poojary, Sumeet tucked it in to breach the sturdy Maldivian defence finally. The Maldivian goalie came out with another couple of terrific saves to deny the Indians to clinch their second straight SAFF Championship trophy.
Match result: India 1 (Sumeet Passi 90'+1') lose to Maldives 2 (Ibrahim Hussain 19', Ali Fasir 73')
Source: AIFF Media