Maldives beat favorites Nepal 3-0 to advance into the final of SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018.
Nepal advanced into the semifinal topping their group after two convincing wins against Bhutan and host Bangladesh. On the other hand, Maldives advanced by sheer luck after winning on coin toss against Sri Lanka.
Maldives took an early lead in the 9th minute of the game. Captain Akram Abdul Ghanee finds the far corner from a stunning freekick at the edge of the penalty area for a foul on Ali Fasir.
Nepal came close scoring an equalizer in the 19th minute from Bimal Gharti Magar’s free kick. His left foot strike went wide. Maldives also had two good chances to double the lead in the next minute. Both Hassan Naiz and Ali Fasir’s chances saved by the Nepal goalkeeper. Akram also came close scoring another freekick from the same spot where he scored the first. His free kick to the near post was saved by Nepal goalkeeper Kiran Kumar who plays in Maldives for Club TC.
Due to the heavy rain and lightning, Referee stopped the game in the 26th minute and was resumed after almost 30 minutes of delay.
Nepal came close levelling the game in the 37th minute. But Maldivian defender Hussain Shifau cleared the ball inside the six-yard box. Nepal also had a wonderful chance to level the game before the half time. Bimal’s shot from the right side of the penalty area was saved by the Maldivian goalkeeper and the rebound ball fell on to Bharat Khawas. He could not hit the target from close range due to Maldivian defender Ali Samooh’s aggressive defending. First half ended 1-0 to Maldives.
Hassan Naiz of Maldives had a magnificent chance to double the lead at the start of second half. But, Nepal goalkeeper Kiran Kumar stopped him from scoring in a one on one situation. Both teams made their substitutions in the 58th minute. Mohamed Irufan replaced injured Hussain Nihan for Maldives and Both Nawayug Shrestha and Anjan Bista replaced Nirajan Khadka and Bharat Khawas for Nepal.
Sunil Bal of Nepal came close scoring from more than 40 yards. His long-range strike to top left corner went close. Nepal made their final change bringing Bishal Rai for Suman Aryal in the 74th minute. Maldives came close again from Ali Fasir’s corner. Mohamed Irufan’s close range header was blocked by Kiran before the defender clears it out. Maldives made their second substitution in the 80th minute. Asadhulla Abdulla replaced Hassan Naiz.
Maldives scored twice in three minutes to extend the lead. Substitute Asadhulla made a good impact coming off the bench assisting twice for Ibrahim Waheed’s both goals. Nepal tried a few long-range shots from outside the box in the final minutes of the game and failed as the game ended once again Maldives beating Nepal in SAFF Suzuki Cup.
Maldives will play either India or Pakistan in Final on Saturday.