Maldives took the revenge in style to win the SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018 against the defending champion India, who have already beaten them in group stage of this competition.
India came into the final without losing a single game. On the other hand, Maldives passed the group stage with sheer luck of a coin toss. Both teams named an unchanged lineup for today’s final.
The first attack came from the holders when tournament top scorer Manvir Singh tried to head in Aashique Kuruniyan’s cross. He could not hit ball well as it went across the goal before Ali Samdhooh clears it out.
Maldives took the lead in the 19th minute. Ibrahim Mahudhee chipped the ball over the Indian goalkeeper from a well timed through pass by Hassan Naiz.
India came close equalizing in the 29th minute when Ashique Kuruniyan once again delivered a low cross in to the box. Manvir Singh’s shot was well blocked by the Maldivian captain Akram Abdul Ghanee. Manvir hits the side net after two minutes from inside the box. Maldives suffered a big blow when their captain Akram Abdul Ghanee was forced to substitute. Ahmed Numaan replaced injured Akram at the back. First hald ended 1-0 to the Maldivians.
India made their first change at the break. Germanpreet Singh replaced Davinder Singh. Manvir came close in the opening minutes of the second half. His free header from the near post went over the bar. The referee showed yellow card to Maldives captain Akram Abdul Ghanee who was sitting on the bench for bad mouthing.
Ali Fasir double the lead in the 65th minute through another outstanding pass by Hamza Mohamed. Fasir finished it in style. India tried to close the gap in the second half a lot. But the Maldives defense held firm and strong. Maldives came close scoring a third in the 81st minute from a good counter attack. Substitute Asadhulla Abdulla effort went off target. Maldives goalkeeper Mohamed Faisal made a few excellent saves in the dying minutes of the game to keep them in lead.
Substitute Sumeet Passi of India pulled one back in the 90th minute. But, the Maldives held on the lead to win their second SAFF Suzuki Cup in history.