India takes on Maldives today in what is a repeat of the 2009 SAFF Championship Final. India’s young side won the Cup on penalties.
They met in the final of the 2008 SAFF Cup and Maldives came out 1-0 winners in Sri Lanka. This time however, Maldives will take on a full strength Indian Team which has both Sunil and Jeje firing in the goals.
Also this Maldives isn’t as strong as the one they had in 2009, but they are capable of getting the result. They have started the tournament poorly by drawing against lowly Pakistan and Nepal but topped the group by defeating Bangladesh 3-1. Highly rated strikers Ashfaq Ali and Thariq Ahmed who scored a brace in the 3-1 win against Bangladesh along with Ibrahim Fazeel have found their touch. This fact should be worrying India.
India finally came out of their shell against Sri Lanka. In the 1st match they were not allowed space by Afghanistan. In the 2nd match against Bhutan, they scored 5 goals but missed as many.
In the Sri Lanka game, Jeje started combining well with Sunil and made brilliant moves by playing walls and through runs. The 3-0 scoreline is a modesty as many goals could have been scored. The pressure was so much that Sri Lanka’s best player Bandara scored an own-goal!
If India continues to play from where they left in Sri Lanka match, Maldives should be an easy task for them. But a knock-out match is a different ball game. The one who makes most of the scoring chances is going to win.