The Indian men’s football team reached the final of SAFF Championship 2021 on Wednesday with a 3-1 win over home team Maldives. Sunil Chhetri scored a brace while Manvir Singh also found the back of the net to help India come out victorious. India will meet Nepal in the final, who they beat earlier in the tournament. The match India take the lead but Pritam’s Kotal’s foul in the penalty box help Maldives come back on level terms.
However, Chhetri stepped up once again in the second half and with a brace helped India take a two-goal lead and eventually get over the line.
India dominated most of the first half with the ball and even took the lead but Ali Ashfaq converted from the spot to bring Maldives back on level terms.
India, who needed a win to make the SAFF Championship final, tried hard to find spaces and Manvir Singh gave them the lead in the 33rd minute with a shot at near post.
However, Maldives did not give up and kept pushing ahead. In the 44th minute, Pritam Kotal erred in the box giving away a penalty that the Maldives striker made no mistake with.
It was heated on the pitch right from the start with the match meaning eons for both the teams. Under half an hour, the referee had brandished three yellow cards, two being to Team India.
After the first goal, India coach Igor Stimac took the precaution of taking off Mandar Rao Dessai and bringing in Chinglensana Singh since Mandar was on a yellow card.
The second half saw India and Maldives begin on even ground but the visitors continued to dominate the possession, something that reaped benefit in the 62nd minute.
Apuia’s cross is played into Chhetri’s path by Manvir and the Indian captain makes no mistake and volleys it home. With the lead in hand, India pushed even harder and Chhetri increased the lead in less than 10 more minutes.
Off a free kick, Chhetri executed a brilliant loop header to increase India’s advantage by two goals.
However, that was not the end of the drama in the match. In the 81st minute, Indian head coach Igor Stimac was sent off after the referee showed him a second yellow of the night.
Maldives had a few half chances in the last 10 minutes but the home team could not create anything decisive. In the stoppage time, Subhasish Bose took a second yellow and was sent off for a reckless foul.
In the final, Stimac will not be on the sidelines as the coach for India while Subhasish will not be available in defence.