Defending champion and seven times winner India started Group B campaign with comfortable win over neighboring country Sri Lanka.
India came into the competition with their U-23 squad and named a strong lineup including former Liverpool academy defender Lallianzuala Channgte. Sri Lanka who haven’t scored against India in the two previous meetings in SAFF Championship will be looking to break Indian defense.
Both teams started the first half well and India threatened Sri Lanka defense with an early free kick. But was well saved by Sri Lankan experience goalkeeper Sujan Perera who plays in Maldives for Club Eagles.
Sri Lanka too had a good free kick chance right in front of the box in the 17th minute when Sajith Kumara was brought down by Sarthak Golui. The resulting free kick by Mohamed Rifnaz went wide. Sarthak Golui was also booked for the challenge.
India took the lead in the 35th minute of the game when Sumeet Passi finds Ashique Kuruniyan with a nice through pass. Ashique Kuruniyan’s neat finish to the far bottom corner made it 1-0 to India.
With the lead, India started playing with more confidence attacking through the middle using Sumeet Passi’s good passing abilities and created two beautiful chances to double the lead.
Sri Lanka had more problems in the 38th minute when captain Subash Madhushan was forced to come off with an injury. Fernndo Harsha replaced him at the back. India went to the half with a deserving 1-0 lead.
India double their lead at the start of the second half. Defender Lallianzuala Channgte’s left side cross went straight into the goal over the Sri Lankan goalkeeper Sujan Perera.
Sri Lanka had a good chance in the 53rd minute to pull one back. Asikur Rahuman’s effort went straight into the hands of Indian goalkeeper Vishal Kaith.
Dring the final quarter of the game, Sri Lanka looked tired and India took full advantage of it. They had two glorious chances in the 71st minute to add a third. Sarthak Golui finds Farukh Choudhary of India unmark inside the box. His left foot strike hits the bar and Manvir Singh’s rebound attempt was blocked by the Sri Lankan defense.
In the final 10 minutes of the game, Sujan Perera saved two long range shot from outside the box. One deflected shot from Faruk Choudhary and one well struck strike from the substitute Manvir Singh. He also saved Faruk Choudhary’s free header in the 86th minute from close range. Undoubtedly, if it wasn’t for Sujan Perera, India could have bagged few more. Once again the match ended Sri Lanka failing to score against India.
Sri Lanka will play their final group game against Maldives on Friday, and India will face their old rival Maldives on next Sunday.