Asia: India retain position as regional power in SAFF tournament (video)
The South Asian Football Championship has been taking place in India since the beginning of December. The biannual event retained its recent trend of seeing the Indian national team win the championship this time defeating Afghanistan in yesterday’s final by four goals to nil.
In the early stages of the tournament Afghanistan had the early advantage over India with both teams meeting each other in Group A, along with Sri Lanka and Bhutan, and the Afghans finishing top of the group on goal difference. Following a 1-1 draw with each other in the opening group match Afghanistan and India then recorded victories over their other opponents with Afghanistan’s goal difference of plus nine edging out the Indians by just one goal. In Group B the Maldive Islands and Nepal finished in the top two spots, and thus claimed the remaining semi-final places, with both teams getting five points out of nine, two better than Pakistan and four better than Bangladesh who propped up the rest of the table.
India had an easier time of it in the semi-finals getting the better of the Maldives by three goals to one with Sunil Chhetri bagging a brace as he continued to set the tournament alight as its start player. Afghanistan, on the other hand, were ultimately grateful to Balal Arezou as his goal ten minutes into extra-time proved the difference as in their semi-final against Nepal. The final proved to be a tight affair for most of the game and remained goalless until twenty minutes from time when the Indians won a penalty kick which was scored by Chhetri who scored his seventh goal of the tournament. India then began to open the floodgates putting three more goals past their valiant opponents who, by this stage, were down to ten men and with Clifford Miranda, Jeje Lalpekhlua and Sushil Singh all etching their names on to the score sheet to provide the score line with an emphatic feel which was perhaps not befitting the performance of Afghanistan. Nevertheless the Indians celebrated a second consecutive title win, and sixth overall, in front of an ecstatic home crowd and cemented their place as the dominant force in the region.
INDIA 4-0 AFGHANISTAN – FINAL HIGHLIGHTS