‘Ali Ashfaq is the best and most dangerous striker in this region’ – Maldives head coach Istvan Urbanyi looks forward to clash against India

Maldives accomplished their aim of finishing top of Group B, and will now face India in the semi-final on 9th September
Looking forward to the clash, their coach Istvan Urbanyi commented, “India is a difficult opposition because it is well organized and has a lot of potential. This is a very competitive competition, doesn’t matter whom you play in the semi-final, it will be a tough game. There will be a big fight to reach the final.”

When asked if it would be a boon for his side that Sunil Chhetri, India’s skipper, will be suspended, he answered, “I don’t want to talk about the opposition. Sunil Chhetri is a very good striker and If I could make a birthday wish, if chhetri could play or not, I would rather ask for a drink, as I won’t ask negative for any player. I feel bad for him that he can’t play semi-final as I was also a player. He is a player for his country and unfortunately he cant play.”

On being quizzed on today’s encounter against Afghanistan, and whether his side could have done more to win and how much his side missed the benched Ali Ashfaq, he stated, “I don’t think so. We reached our

target today. Afghanistan is the highest ranked team and physically much stronger. This was our tactics for today. Maybe not our nicest play, but we had 3-4 chances. Ofcourse if we play a strong side like Afghanistan, they too will have a chance, but I think we controlled the game. And Ali Ashfaq is a key factor and we will be happy to have him back (for the semi-final).

Elaborating on how difficult it was to leave out their talismanic skipper, who risked a suspension if he got another yellow card, the Maldivian coach commented, “Today is his birthday and as a coach it is a difficult decision not to use your best player. Definitely he is the best and most dangerous striker in this region. Yesterday I had a short chat with players, and Ashfaq asked to think about if we need to take a risk of not being able to use him in the semis, and I said no we don’t have to.”

“I said, I will make a decision based on players’ feeling, definitely final word and responsibility is mine, but we made this decision as a team,” he added.

Giving his take on the line-up for the semi-final, Urbanyi said, “It is going to be a competitive semi-final, there is no favourite in both games, each and every team has something that they can use to reach the final.”

“This is a new game, a new chance and a new story. It is interesting we have the same semis as two years ago. I hope and wish we don’t have same final,” he concluded.


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