Afghanistan blank Lanka to enter final

Afghanistan blanked Sri Lanka 5-0 and set up a meeting with host India in the final of the SAFF Suzuki Cup football championship. However contrary to the scoreline the defending champions were made to work hard for the win by gritty Sri Lankans.

Khaibar Amani of Afghanistan signals after scoring his fourth goal of the tournament, against Sri Lanka on Thursday in Thiruvananthapuram. He is the top scorer in the SAFF Suzuki Cup.   -  S. Gopakumar

Afghanistan blanked Sri Lanka 5-0 and set up a meeting with host India in the final of the SAFF Suzuki Cup football championship.

However contrary to the scoreline the defending champions were made to work hard for the win by gritty Sri Lankans. Syed Mohammed Hashemi got the breakthrough goal when he broke the off-side trap to score at stroke of half-time. Till then, the overtly defensive Sri Lankans had managed to keep Afghani forwards in check.

The Lankans should have been a goal up in the second minute but Bandra messed up an easy chance as the ball floated into the box from middle by Ishan. Bandra’s attempt was feeble and was saved by goalkeeper Azizi.

Sri Lanka didn’t recover from the late strike and Afghanistan exerted itself early in the second half. The champion side played with assurance and confidence and superb strike by Kanischka Taher from top of the box in the 50th minute underlined that. Five minutes later, Popalzay was brought down inside the box by Lankan defender Hakeem. The resultant penalty was converted by Khaibar Amani for his side’s third goal.

Substitute Hatifie nodded in the fourth goal in the 77th minute. Mustafa Zazai was denied by wood work in the 84th minute. However, captain Faysal Shayesteh completed the tally with a clinical finish in the 87th minute. After two day’s rest, Afghanistan will take on India in the final on Sunday.

The result:

Afghanistan 5 (Mohammed Hashemi 45, Knischka Taher 50, Khaibar Amani 55, Hatifie 77, Faysal Shayesteh 87) bt Sri Lanka 0.