India 4-0 Afghanistan: The Men In Blue Successfully Defend Their SAFF Championship Title
Savio Medeira’s side won their sixth SAFF Championship title in a game where the referee stole all the headlines.
By Rahul Bali
India comprehensively defeated ten-man Afghanistan 4-0 in the finals of the SAFF Championship at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi with referee Sukhbir Singh being at the epicenter of events.
The defending champions came alive only in the final 20 minutes after Afghanistan’s Hameedullah Yousefzari was sent-off under questionable circumstances.
A penalty from Sunil Chhetri and goals from Clifford Miranda, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Sushil Singh sealed the victory for the Indians.
The two coaches named an unchanged line-up from the one that started in the semi-finals.
It was Afghanistan who started on a brighter note as the very first minute needed a last ditch clearance from Gouramangi Moirangthem after Anthony Pereira gave away the ball and Balal Arezou was through.
The next minute it was Arezou again as he picked up a ball in the second minute from Ghulam Hoddein and his shot from the top of the box was stopped by Karanjit Singh.
The Men in Blue were finding it difficult to find their feet as they failed to stitch together a couple of passes inside the opposition half.
Gouramangi couldn’t keep pace with Arezou who sent in a ball across the face of the goal which Sanjar Ahmadi just about missed by a yard or so.
Around the half way mark of the first half, Yousef Mahsriqi released Arezou in the space between Gouramangi and Mahesh Gawli and the Afghan number nine’s shot was blocked by Karanjit once again.
India’s first real foray forward was when Climax Lawrence’s chip found Clifford Miranda get behind the Afghan defence but the Dempo winger couldn’t control the ball well.
Savio Medeira’s side were second best for most of the first half and couldn’t deal with the pace of their opposition who interestingly had played 120 minutes just a day before.
After the break, India looked the keep the ball with Climax being the chief instigator as he found Anthony Pereira on the right whose cross saw Jeje’s header go over the bar.
Afghan were finding it difficult to keep up the tempo of the first session and looked content to hit on the counter, which were restricted to a few.
It was around the hour mark that Jeje was allegedly brought down by Faisal Safa inside the box and referee Sukhbir Singh awarded a soft penalty to India. In the aftermath, goalkeeper Hameedullah Yousufzari was given marching orders for pushing the referee.
Chhetri scored from the ensuring spot-kick but had to retake it due to intrusion from Syed Rahim Nabi inside the box. The India number 11 sent the substitute Bashir Ahmad Darman, after winger Ghulam Hoddein had to be sacrificed, the wrong way to help side surge ahead.
With a man down Afghanistan were always susceptible to concede more goals with Faisal Safa receiving treatment on the sidelines, Chhetri played Miranda who took a shot from his unfavoured right foot into the far side of the goal.
Chhetri ran with the ball from the left and laid the ball across for Jeje who from his second touch slotted the ball home.
Substitute Sushil Singh scored a gem of a goal as he scored a goal with the final kick of the match.
That goal turned out to be the last piece of action in the game as the referee blew the final whistle to send the Indian fans, staff and players into delirium as they celebrated another SAFF Championship triumph.
Catch all the latest Live action and match highlights from SAFF Championship here
- Own Goal
- Penalty Missed
- Yellow Card
- Penalty Save
- Penalty Shootout Goal
- Penalty Shootout Miss
- Yellow Card / Red Card
- Red Card
- Substitution IN
- Substitution OUT
- Goal.com Rating
- Goal.com Man of the Match
- Goal.com Flop of the Match
- Top & Flop Global Ranking
- Fans' Man of the Match
- Fans' Flop of the Match