India 3-1 Maldives SAFF Championship HIGHLIGHTS: 10-man India beats defending champion to reach the final

Two goals from Sunil Chhetri and one from Manvir Singh assured a comfortable win for India in its must-win game against defending champion Maldives.

India's Sunil Chhetri, after equalling Pele's goalscoring record, will be looking to take India through, building on his goal tally (File Photo)   -  REUTERS

Hello and welcome  to Sportstar's blog of the India vs Maldives SAFF Championship 2021 match being played at the at the Maldives National Football Stadium.

This was Neeladri Bhattacharjee bringing you the minute-by-minute update. That's all for the day. Thanks for tuning in. Goodnight and take care.

India through to the final of SAFF Championship, set to face first-time finalist Nepal. India has won the Championship most number of times (7) and will look to add to the tally. (READ MATCH REPORT)

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India 3 – 1 Maldives  

Full Time!

90+3' Red Card for India's Subhasish! India is reduced to 10-men, but the damage is done.

One more minute to decide the result as India defends with all that it has. Maldives was the defending champion which had defeated India the final. This year looks like divine redemption for the Indian tigers

89' India now keeping all of its men in the defence to stop any further development as it realises it has one foot into the final

87' Thapa's corner kick cleared easily by the host as Udanta and Thapa try to create something again, but end up giving a goal kick

85' Maldives trying to start a counter attack buy Lalenmawia coming to India's rescue with a crucial block

83' India playing very dangerously with a lot of action on and off the field. Another member of the Indian coaching team now booked

80' Red Card for Stimac! The referee gives the Indian coach another yellow card to see him walk off. He has been red carded for protesting constantly

78' Triple change for India: Yasir, Chhetri and Manvir replaced by Thapa, Glan Martins, Ali

77' This is the first time India has scored more than two goals under Stimac as Maldives makes two attacking changes

73' If the scoreline remains like this till full-time, India will go through to the finals of the SAFF Championship 2021.

Sunil Chhetri now has 79 international goals, 2 more than Pele and one less than Messi

71' GOOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!! Sunil Chhetri scores his second goal to increase India's lead further

India 3 - 1 Maldives

69'Substitution for Maldives.

Off: Ibrahim, On: Naiz

67' India's corner Kick punched away by the Maldivian goalkeeper, after which there were attempts of handball by India which was paid no heed by the referee

64' Save! Maldives gets a free kick just at the edge of the box after a foul by Sana which was followed by a wonderful save by Gurpreet

62' GOOOOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!! Sunil Chhetri's wonderful strike propels India on front as the ball rattles the net

India 2-1 Maldives

61' India on the attack with Manvir taking a shot. Samooh comes to Maldives' rescue as his block gives India a corner

60' Shot! Suresh takes a long ranger from outside the box which flies past the target

58' Block! Ashfaq releases Fasir, whose shot is blocked by the Indian defence

57' Foul by Akram as India gets a free kick close to the opposition box. But the aerial ball cleared away by Maldives

54' Stimac booked yet again! The Indian coach shakes his head, expressing his displeasure as India with a handful of yellow carded gentlemen now

53' Yellow Card for India! with Sana in the referee's books now for his challenge on Ashfaq. Fourth yellow for India

50' Brandon carried off on a stretcher with Udanta Singh coming on in his place

48' Injury! Brandon on the ground after a challenge in midfield as the players stop to regroup and rebuild.

Second half begins!

HALF TIME! What a half has it been with one goal coming from each side. If it remains like this till full-time, the host, Maldives, will go through.

Only if India win, will it secure a position in the final. Keep following this space for live updates.

 

44' GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAALLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!Ashfaq equalises for Maldives from the spot to bring them back into the game.

India 1-1 Maldives

Gurpreet jumps on the opposite side as the stadium explodes with cheers

43' Penalty! Hamza goes to the ground after a challenge by Pritam Kotal and the referee points to the spot

42' Miss! Maldives finally goes on the attack with Hamza taking a long ranger that Gurpreet easily watches out of play

40' India dominating the match now with the last three odd minutes in the Maldives half and now it gets a corner to make the best of it.

Subhasih heads in the ball which is finally saved.

36' Substitution for India! Off: Mandar Rao, On: Chinglensana

35' Suresh to Manvir, back to Suresh to Lalenmawia. India stitching the midfield well now

33' GOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!Manvir Singh released who takes a right footed bullet of a shot to take India front

India 1 - 0 Maldives

 

31' Another Yellow card for India! Subhasish warned as both of India's centre-backs now in the book. India needs to be cautious now

30' Lalenmawia taking command of the midfield as India tries to create chances through through balls

28' Block! What a magnificent recovery from India as Ashfaq was all on his own until Subhasish ran back to block his shot

26' CHANCE! Sunil Chhetri's header hits the post, the closest chance of the game so far

26' Yellow card for Maldives! Samooh gets yellow carded, the first yellow card for Maldives, third in the game so far

23' Another Yellow card for India! Rahul Bheke gets into the book for a challenge on Hamza

23' Maldives can afford a draw here. India cannot. Naturally the host is looking to stay in its own half to stop any attack that starts building

21' Yellow Card! Mandar Rao gets into the book with the first yellow card of the match

19' Bicycle Kick from Chhetri, but no real danger as scores remain nil-nil. Ball goes back to India's half

17' Maldives now laying back to pull India out as India continues its press.

13' Save at the other end! Maldives takes a shot from the edge of the box, but Gurpreet catches it easily

12' Shot! Branon Fernandes takes a long ranger shot which goes past the target easily. Scores remain 0-0

11' Great steal by Kotal, who tries to pass the ball through the midfield gaps, but Maldives mitigates its gaps to get defensively solid again

9' MISS! Ali Ashfaq steals the ball, but Rahul Bheke just comes to India's rescue with a crucial interception

8' Suresh Singh was fouled by Nihaan, but the free-kick could not really get past the wall. Game continues.

7' Off-side! The clearance was kicked back for Ashfaq, who receives the ball, but the linesman raises his flag.

6' Maldives created a space on the right flank and got a corner. Ashfaq took it which is cleared out of danger comfortably

4' Kotal crosses the ball, but misses any potential receiver as no real danger for Maldives arises

3' Kotal to Suresh Singh, but the ball goes out for a throw, while the match continues after the throw-in

1' Maldives trying to create something from the right, but India defending well in the opening minute of the game

9:30 pm: Kick off! India, in white, starts from left to right with Maldives, in red and green stripes, on the other end of the field.

9:26 pm: Just a few more minutes for the match to begin as both team's player are out on the field warming up

9:00 pm: 30 Minutes to kick off!

The winner of this match will progress to the final, where it will face Nepal, a side that has reached the final of the SAFF Championship for the very first time.

In another news, the Indian Women's team is playing Chinese Taipei in an international friendly, wherein India has already taken an early lead with a goal from Renu.

RELATED | Indian Women's football coach Dennerby lauds team fitness ahead of friendly 

8:48 pm: Igor Stimac has decided to go with an unchanged XI from the last match with the team lining up in a 4-4-2 formation.

It has to be remembered that when India lost the SAFF title the last time, it was Maldives at the other end.

8:38 pm: Confirmed Line-ups:

India XI: Gurpreet Sandhu (GK), Rahul Bheke, Subhasish Bose, Lalenmawia, Manvir Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Sunil Chhetri, Yasir Mohammad, Mandar Rao Desai, Pritam Kotal, Suresh Singh

 

Maldives XI: Faisal (GK), Sifaau, Samooh, Akram, Haisham, Mahudee, Nihaan, Aisam, Hamza, Ashfaq, Fasir

Match Preview

Needing an outright win to remain alive in the SAFF Championship, the Indian football team will take on host Maldives in its final round-robin league match on Wednesday.

A draw or a loss will see seven-time champion India miss the final, which could further raise questions on head coach Igor Stimac's future with the team.

India's worst performance SAFF Championship so far was the third-place finish in 2003 and the team has either won or finished runner-up in 11 previous editions. All the four top sides in the five-team tournament remain in contention for the October 16 final.

RELATED| SAFF Championship: What the India football team needs to qualify for final

With five points from two draws and one win, India is currently placed third below Maldives (six points from three matches) and Nepal (six points from three matches). Nepal plays Bangladesh (fourth place with four points) in an earlier match on Wednesday.

Two-time and defending champion Maldives has never been easy opponents for India in the history of this regional tournament though the island country sits 51 ranking points below India in FIFA chart at 158th.

The side led by veteran Ali Ashfaq, one of the best strikers in the region, has regrouped after losing its opening match against Nepal by beating Bangladesh 2-0 and Sri Lanka 1-0.

Just like India captain Sunil Chhetri, the 36-year-old Ashfaq has carried Maldives football on his shoulders for a long time and has scored two of his side's three goals in this tournament. He will, no doubt, be the man India will have to be wary about.

India felt the absence of experienced Sandesh Jhingan in deep defence as it could not defend a 1-0 lead against 10-man Bangladesh, which scored a late equaliser despite numerical inferiority.

In the second match against 205th-ranked Sri Lanka, Indian forwards, including Chhetri, had an off day as they could not create enough chances and also failed to finish whatever few scoring opportunities that came their way to hold on for a 0-0 draw.

RELATED| I hope to keep playing and scoring in foreseeable future: Chhetri after equalling Pele

Chhetri came to the rescue of the team once again against Nepal, scoring the decisive goal to equal the legendary Pele's tally of 77 international goals. The team continues to depend on Chhetri for goals and lacks any proven goalscorers.

Udanta Singh, right winger, has been inconsistent though he has shown flashes of his abilities at the flanks while Seriton Fernandes in defence and Brandon Fernandes in the midfield have done reasonably well.

Stimac rued the inability of his forwards to convert the scoring chances. "We need to improve our scoring from the chances which we are creating," he said.

"It is simple, if we do that, games become very easy. Otherwise you need to suffer till the end, or even beyond the end," he added, still confident that his side can reach the final.

Complete Indian squad

Goalkeepers: Dheeraj Singh, Vishal Kaith, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Chinglensana Singh Konsham, Mandar Rao Dessai, Rahul Bheke, Subhasish Bose, Seriton Fernandes. 

Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Lalengmawia, Anirudh Thapa, Sahal Abdul Samad, Jeakson Singh, Glan Martins, Suresh Singh, Liston Colaco, Yasir Mohammad.

Forwards: Manvir Singh, Rahim Ali, Sunil Chhetri, Farukh Choudhary


Complete Maldives Squad

Goalkeepers: Mohammed Faisal, Mohamed Shafeeu, Ali Najih

Defenders: Ahmed Nooman, Hussain Sifau Yoosuf, Haisham Hassan, Akram Abdul Ghanee, Samooh Ali, Gasim Sammaam

Midfielders: Ashad Ali, Ibrahim Aisam, Mohamed Umair, Hussain Nihan, Hamza Mohamed, Ismail Eesa, Ibrahim Waheed Hassan.

Forwards: Hassan Raaif Ahmed, Mohamed Naaim, Ibrahim Mahdhy Hussain, Assadhulla Abdulla, Ali Fasir, Ali Ashfaq, Naaiz Hassan, Ali Haisham


Where can you watch?

The SAFF Championship will be telecast in India on Eurosport and Eurosport HD. It can also be watched live online on Discovery + App. Kick off at 9.30 pm IST.