Maldives beats India to claim SAFF Cup after 10 years

India failed to defend its title as it went down fighting 1-2 to Maldives in the SAFF Cup 2018 final.

Ali Fasir celebrates after scoring Maldives second goal against India.   -  Twitter @SAFFSuzukiCup

India failed to defend its title as it went down fighting 1-2 to Maldives in the SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018 final at the Bangabandhu National Stadium here on Saturday.

The goals came for Maldives in the either half of the match and India scored its lone goal in the added extra time. However, the Indians started off well with brilliantly executed counter attacks but the defence of Maldives were up to the mark and denied the defending champion to lift its record eighth SAFF Cup title.

India continued to push Maldives to its limit until it scored against the run of the play in the 19th minute. On a quick counter-attacking move, Naiz Hussain played a deft delivery to Ibrahim Hussain only to see him gleefully score the opener before the 20-minute mark. Meanwhile, this was also the first instance in the tournament where India was trailing.

Key highlights: India fails to defend title

India, in its pursuit of an equaliser, came close quite a few times but the attackers were missing the finesse in front of the opposition goal. On the half-hour mark, Ashique delivered a low cross from the left flank directed to Farukh who lost his balance to lose the opportunity. On the resultant corner, Subhasish jumped to head it home but the Maldivian goalie Mohamed Faisal fisted the danger away.

One minute later, Manvir Singh latched on another attack but it rippled the side-netting. India headed to the changing room trailing by the solitary goal.

Maldives doubled its lead in the 68th minute only to add a pinch of salt to India's wounds. On another quick counter-attacking move, Hamzath Mohamed outran the Indian defence line to glide it on to an onrushing Ali Fasir who poked it home to send the Maldives bench into a rupture.

Subhasish got another chance to breach the Maldivian defence in the 79th minute. He was left completely unmarked and a tap-in could have done the trick for the boys in Blue but the skipper mistimed it to see the ball go out of bounce.

Sumeet Passi sprung some life into the game having scored a goal for India in the added time but it was too late to deny the inevitable. On a cross from the right wing by Nikhil, Sumeet tucked it in to breach the sturdy Maldivian defense finally. The Maldivian goalie came out with another couple of terrific saves to deny the Indians.