Unbeaten India take on Maldives in SAFF Cup final, seek 8th title

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DHAKA, September 14 : Boosted by an undefeated run, seven-time champions India will start as favourites against Maldives in the summit clash of the South Asian Football Federation Cup here on Saturday.
The Indian team, comprising under-23 players except for one, has been the only unbeaten side in the tournament. It has beaten Sri
Lanka (2-0) and Saturday’s opponents Maldives (2-0) in the group stages before prevailing over Pakistan (3-1) in the semi-finals.
The defending champions will be chasing its eight triumph in 12 editions and third back-to-back titles as it seeks to continue its stranglehold in the regional tournament.
Maldives have not played in the final in the last three editions, losing in the semi-finals each time. India, on the other hand, has played in the final of all the earlier 11 editions except in 2003.
The last time the Bangabandhu Stadium here hosted the tournament in 2009, India and Maldives faced each other in the summit clash and both sides could not score a goal even in the extra time. India won that final match in penalty shootout.
Stephen Constantine would not want Wednesday’s match to meander towards penalty shootout but his players cannot take Maldives lightly though the island country has been struggling in the group stages. (PTI)