Maldives will face India in the finals of SAFF SUZUKI CUP 2018 at the Bangabandhu Stadium in Dhaka. The two teams met in the group stages of this tournament where India edges past the Maldives by 2-0.
Maldives who struggled in the group stages needed the luck of a coin toss to progress to the last four after collecting a single point from two group games, and they turned up a much more dangerous side when they thrashed inform Nepal by 3 goals to nil to advance into the final.
Seven-time champions India will be looking to add another SAFF Suzuki Cup trophy to their cabinet by ending the tournament in style without a single defeat.
Manvir Singh of India topped the goal scoring chart with 3 goals will be eyeing golden shoe as well as the most valuable player of the tournament.
India will miss one of their best player Lallianzuala Chhangte, who was given marching orders for an off the ball offence during semifinal match against Pakistan.
Maldives Captain Akram Abdul Ghanee will do everything to repeat what his brother Assad Abdul Ghanee did in 2008 to win this tournament.
Maldives may start their front three Ali Fasir, Hassan Naiz and Hamza Mohamed who haven’t started in the group stage games against the India.
There are only two players in Maldives squad who featured for 2008 winning team. Captain Akram Abdul Ghanee and Midfielder Mohamed Arif.
Maldives goalkeeper Mohamed Faisal has made 14 saves so far. Only Pakistan goalkeeper Yousuf Butt has more (15) than him.
WHAT MANAGERS SAY:
Maldivian Coach Petar Segrt said that, although they are facing a huge opponent who has a population of 1.3 billion, it still will be 11 vs 11 on the field.
“If India is fielding U23 players, we are fielding semi-professionals. Most of our players work for eight hours and then train. I’m very proud of each one of them. It’s a huge success for us to be in the final of this competition. We respect India, they’re a big opponent. But this is our chance which we want to take it.” he added.
India head coach Stephen Constantine said that, Maldives have shown their worth in the semifinal beating Nepal 3-0 and that wasn’t an easy task. He also said, they came with a strong intent to win the tournament and they have some really good players too.
“We have our full respect for the Maldives team, but we fear no one. We expect a tough game against the Maldives.” He added.
HEAD TO HEAD
This will be the fourth final between Maldives and India. India has won twice and Maldives beat India in 2008 final.
India have won 14 games and lost only three against the Maldives out of the 30 games.
Maldives finished as runner-up three time while India ended as runner-up twice.
This will be the fifth final Maldives playing. The last time they played in final was in 2009 where they lost on penalties against the Indians.