India won their record-extending 8th South Asian Football Federation Cup on Saturday. India went on to beat Nepal 3-0 and claim the title. Indians ended the tournament by claiming 8 points out of 4 matches played. The SAFF championship is played between nations like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, and India. Of all the nations playing India was the highest-ranked on the FIFA rankings. It was expected that India will win the tournament and the team did that in a thumping fashion. Sunil Chettri, Sahal Abdul Samad and Mandarrao were top performers. Here is a look at the campaign: –
India Beats Nepal 3-0 to Win the SAFF Championship: –
It was just a matter of time in the final before India could begin the scoring. The match statistically was dominated by India. India won comprehensively concerning possession as it was 65-35 in favor of the Indians. India tried out fresher faces this tournament as they began with a lineup having Lalengmawia Apuia Ralte in the mid-field. Alongside Apuia was Suresh Singh Wangjam. Sunil Chettri alongside Manpreet Singh formed a formidable striking pair. At the back, the Indians had the experienced Rahul Bheke and Chinglensana Singh. Bheke has been playing for Bengaluru and has been a consistent performer.
When the game began India was on top. Attacking and attacking and attacking the opposition. India had saved their best for their last game. Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has only some work to do since Nepal could pull only 6 shots of which 1 was on target. Through balls of Apuia were troubling the Nepalese. It was just a matter of time before Sunil Chettri opened the scoring in the 49th minute. Suresh Singh extended the lead in the next minute to 2. The game was sealed by a strike off the foot of Sahal Abdul Samad in the dying minutes of the match. The celebrations proceeded as Sunil Chettri went on to collect the trophy.
India SAFF Cup Group Stage: –
India 1-1 Bangladesh: –
Indians first began their SAFF campaign on a silent note with a 1-1 draw against Bangladesh. It was a well-fought game and the Bangladeshi defense held their nerves to escape with a draw. The scorer for India was Sunil Chettri in the 26th Minute.
India 0-0 Sri Lanka: –
The next game against Sri Lanka also ended in a goalless draw. Indians were again on the top of their game but due to lack of luck, they never scored.
India 1-0 Nepal: –
India finally managed to escape with a victory against Nepal in the third game. The goalscorer in this game was once again Sunil Chettri in the 82nd minute.
India 3-1 Maldives: –
The game that featured the most goals from India was against the host Maldives. India scored thrice in the 33rd, 62nd, and 71st minutes. Sunil Chettri scored the last two goals while Manpreet Singh opened the scoring. The Maldives had equalized in the 45th minute but it was from a penalty.