SAFF Cup: Afghanistan ease past Bhutan, enter semis

Striker Kahibar Amani braced (14th, 51st) while Masih Saighani scored the other goal as Afghanistan scored a fluent win.

It was another dominant show from Afghanistan.   -  PTI

Defending champion Afghanistan packed too many guns for Bhutan to record its second straight win in the SAFF Suzuki Cup football tournament. Though Afghanistan didn’t fire on all cylinders, it wrapped up a 3-0 win to advance into the semi-finals at the Greenfield stadium on Saturday.

Striker Kahibar Amani braced (14th, 51st) while Masih Saighani scored the other goal as Afghanistan scored a fluent win. The win put both Maldives and Afghanistan equal on points and Sunday’s match between the two sides will decide the group winners. Both Bhutan and Bangladesh are effectively out of the tournament and will be playing for pride when they meet on Sunday.

It was another dominant show from Afghanistan, who enjoyed much of ball possession in the first half. After a few hesitant probing, Khaibar Amani showed slick skills as he guided in a precise cross whipped in by Hassan Amir from the right flank. The goal came in the 14th minute and Bhutan became overtly defensive pushing all its men inside its half to baulk Afghanistan. The tactics worked for a while until Tshering Karma fouled Faysal Shyesteh just outside the box. Norallah Amin floated in a free kick towards the Bhutan goal where Masih Saighani rose to head in the second goal.

The trend didn’t change in the second half with Afghanistan increasing the lead gain early. Khyber Amani scored his second goal when he headed in a corner taken by Narollah Amin in the 51st minute. Afghan coach Peter Segrt chose to experiment and substituted his key players. However, Afghanistan didn’t let the pace slip but, Bhutan dogged defence prevented any further goals. On Sunday, India will meet Nepal in the last league match in Group ‘A’

Result:

Afghanistan 3 (Kahibar Amani 14, 51, Masih Saighani 42) beat Bhutan 0.