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SAFF Championship

  • 4 September 2013
  • • 18:15
  • • Dashrath Rangasala, Kathmandu
  • Referee: T. Shamsuzzaman

Bhutan 2-8 Maldives: Ali Ashfaq scores four as Urbanyi's side march into the semis

Bhutan 2-8 Maldives: Ali Ashfaq scores four as Urbanyi's side march into the semis

Maldives record their second straight win courtesy Ali Ashfaq scoring four to record a regulation win against Bhutan...

By Anselm Noronha with Ayush Srivastava at the stadium

Maldives continued their imperious form  as they drubbed a 10-man Bhutan team 8-2 at the Dashrath Rangasala Stadium, Nepal, in a Group B match of the SAFF Championship 2013.

Ali Fasir put Maldives ahead in the 16th minute, while less than 10 minutes later the Red Snappers conceded their first goal in the competition when Passang Tshering (25') scored the equaliser before Chencho Gyeltshen made it 2-1 in favour of Bhutan in the 35th minute.

Maldivian midfielder Muhamed Umair (45+2') equalised at the stroke of half-time, while Bhutan goalkeeper Leki Dukpa saw red. Four more strikes by Ali Ashfaq (48', 51, 76', 79'), a second by Ali Fasir (69') and one by Ali Umar (82') completed the tally for István Urbányi's side.

It was Bhutan who started the match the better of the two sides as they almost found themselves in the lead in the 10th minute when Yeshey Dorji's piledriver had beaten goalkeeper Imran Mohamed all ends out but Chencho was not able to convert on the rebound.

Minutes later, Ali Fasir put Maldives ahead by calmly slotting through the feet of Dukpa in goal after Ali Ashfaq found him with a pinpoint pass. Meanwhile Bhutan's bad luck in front of goal continued as Tshering Dorji's shot hit the woodwork.

However, the equaliser did come in the 25th minute when Passang Tshering headed home by getting on the end of a teasing cross by Tshering Wangdi from the right wing.

In the 31st minute, Bhutan custodian Dukpa held on to his nerves to parry Mohamed Umair's shot at goal, while defender Karun Gurung stood in the way of Imaaz Ahmed's attempt off the rebound.

With Maldives committing too many bodies forward, Chencho Gyeltshen was allowed a free run-in behind their defense. The latter chipped the ball above the orushing Imran Mohamed to put Kazuhori Ohara's side ahead for the first time in the match.

All the good work was wasted however when Leki Dukpa in the Bhutan goal was sent off at the stroke of half time for bringing down Ali Ashfaq just outside the box. It became worse as the resultant freekick was duly converted by Mohamed Umair to equalise for the Red Snappers.

As Maldives began the second half with a man advantage, there was no looking back as Ali Ashfaq made no mistake to steer in a pulled back pass by Ali Fasir in the 48th minute, and then continuing with his peerless form in front of goal by making it 4-2 after being set-up by Ali Umar in the 51st minute.

Ashfaq turned provider in the 69th minute, releasing Ali Fasir, who placed the ball at the back of the net as Bhutan's substitute keeper Hemlal Bhattrai looked on helplessly.

Bhattrai was left with the job of picking the ball from his net thrice more. Maldives substitue Mohamed Niyaz helped Asfaq complete his hat-trick in the 76th minute, who struck again to make it 7-2 three minutes later. Ashfaq rounded off his four goals by also setting up another assist in the match. He cruised past a  defender and the nervous substitute keeper with ease, before squaring it off to Ali Umar who had no problem guiding the ball into the empty net in the 82nd minute.

The result takes Maldives at the top of the table with an incredible goal difference of +16 over that of second placed Afghanistan (+5), with whom they will have their final group stage face-off on Friday to decide as to who shall take the top team from Group B.

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