Lacklustre India suffer 1-2 defeat against Maldives in SAFF Cup final


DHAKA, September 15: Poor finishing and scrappy defending put paid to India’s quest for an eighth South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup title as it suffered a 1-2 defeat against Maldives in the summit clash here on Saturday.
India, the defending champions, largely dominated the match with better ball possession and more shots at the opposition goal but the Maldives team scored from the few chances it got to lift the winners’ trophy for the second time. Maldives had also won the title in 2008 edition, which it co-hosted.
Ibrahim Mahudhee Hussain and Ali Fasir scored in the 19th and 66th minutes respectively for Maldives against the run of play.
Sumeet Passi (90+2 minute) pulled one back for India in the second minute of the injury time at the Bangabandhu Stadium.
India, fielding an under-23 side except for one player, was chasing its eighth triumph in 12 editions and its third back-to-back title. But the forwards failed to put the ball on target on several occasions while the defenders lacked coordination. India had beaten Maldives 2-0 in the group stage.
The Stephan Constantine-coached India probably played the worst match of the tournament after making emphatic wins in the group stage and the semi-final. (PTI)