Match Report: Maldives 2 – 1 India


Maldives defeated defending champions India 2-1 to lift the SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018 at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka. A 19th-minute strike by Ibrahim M Hussain and a beautiful counter-attack finished deftly by Ali Fasir were enough for Petar Segrt's men to be crowned the new champions.

In what has already been talked about aplenty, the Maldives came into the final despite having only won one of their three matches in the tournament, a 3-0 win over Nepal in the semi-final. By contrast, India had won all three of their games, and had never even trailed in the competition in the road to final. Despite shrugging off the tag, the young U23 squad were favourites going into the final as they had defeated Maldives 2-0 in the group stages.

Maldives were successful in soaking the pressure from their opponents in the opening minutes and then hitting them on swift counter-attacks. Mohamed Faisal, crowned the Most Valuable Player of the tournament, was once again successful between the sticks and ensured his side was not put under pressure towards the end. India's only goal came from Sumeet Passi's stoppage-time strike but it too late to make any real damage to Maldives' performance.

"We gave everything we had in our previous game against Pakistan, but our lack of experience showed today. I'm very proud of the boys to make it to the finals. These boys are the future of Indian football and they have a great future ahead of them," stated Stephen Constantine.

India won 2-0 in the group stage against Maldives and Petar Segrt reiterated once again that the win in the final is what counts.

"I told everyone that the win is not important in the first round, it is important to win the final. We started at 60-70% and then we came through because of luck but we were 100% today and we were stronger than India today. We had more clear chances

"It was fantastic how we played, especially in the first half. We were controlling the game and creating chances. I told the players at half-time to not stop because we needed the second goal. It is important to score the second goal, I don't like to win 1-0, we always need the second goal. India scored very late and the second goal was important. My players were unbelievable today," he said after the game.

This is Maldives' second SAFF Suzuki Cup title. Current captain Akram Abdul Ghanee's elder brother Assad lifted the trophy for the Maldives in 2008 when they defeated India 1-0 in Colombo.

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Defending champions India will face Pakistan, who were absent from international football for three years, in the second semi-final of SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018.
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Final: Maldives vs India (Highlights)
Semi final: India vs Pakistan (Highlights)
Semi final: Nepal vs Maldives (Highlights)