Can India retain SAFF CUP 2018 against the Maldives?
India the defending Champion will be back on action against the optimistic Maldives in the final of SAFF CUP 2018 at the Bangabandhu Stadium in Dhaka on Saturday. The two teams last met on group stages where India edges past the Maldives by two goals to nil.
The Maldives has come back stronger where they thrashed Nepal three goals to nil in the semi-final. Meanwhile, India beat its arch-rival Pakistan by three goals to one.
The Indian team consisting of mostly the U-23 has performed well in the last two matches of the tournament. Ahead of the final, Stephen Constantine said "The Maldives have shown their worth in the semi-final against Nepal. A 3-0 win against Nepal was not an easy task. Some of their players didn't play against us, and they did some major damage work against Nepal,” Constantine stated. “We are expecting a tough game against the Maldives. But as I said before, we have come with a strong intent to win the tournament.”
The Maldives who had beaten India in SAFF CUP 2018 will try accomplishing the same task and deny India to their eighth SAFF Cup title.
MATCH PREVIEW--INDIA VS MALDIVES
India had performed well with its U-23 Players even with the missing of senior players like Sunil Chhetri and Jeje Lalpekhlua. Manvir Singh, the top scorer for India with three goals is eyeing for the Cup and MVP of the tournament if he maintained the score chart at the top.
Meanwhile, the Maldives who defeated Nepal saw their young striker, Ibrahim Waheed Hassan scores two goals for the team in two minutes. The Maldives will depend on his shoulder to bring the cup home.
The last match between the two teams saw India beat Maldives 2-0 in the 2018 SAFF Cup group stage matches with goals from Nikhil and Manvir for India.
Fourth SAFF Championship final between India and Maldives.
India leads the Maldives in the head-to-head record as they have won 14 and lost only three times out of the 30 games between the two nations.
India won the SAFF Cup seven times while the Maldives has won only one time. India was the runner-up twice compared to the Maldives thrice.
Both of the team had not played in the world cup.
India Manvir Singh is the top scorer in the tournament with three goals.
Ghanee, Maldives players with 52 caps, will be leading the team along with younger players like Naiz Hassan and Ibrahim on the front line.
In its last five matches (all competitive) India has lost once to New Zealand while has four wins against Maldives, Pakistan, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and lifted the intercontinental cup.
The Blue Tigers have conceded 3 goals and scored 10 goals.
The Maldives on their last five games has two wins against Nepal and Bhutan and two losses against India and Singapore while one draw against Sri Lanka. The Maldives has conceded ten goals and scored five goals.
India(4-3-3): Vishal, Sarthak, Dhot, Salam, Bose, Chhangte, Thapa, Passi, Farukh, Manvir, and Nikhil.
Coach: Stephen Constantine
Maldives(4-3-3): Faisal, Fasir, W.Hassan, N.Hassan, H.Mohamed, M. Mohamed, Arif, Irufaan, Samooh, Ghanee, and Yoosuf.
Coach: Petar Segrt.