SAFF Championship 2013: Ashfaq Ali surpasses Bhaichung Bhutia as Maldives maul SL 10-0
When the draw for SAFF Championship 2013 took place it was clear that Group B would see some one-sided scorelines as two of the contenders for the title – Afghanistan and Maldives – were pitted alongside a declining Sri Lanka side and minnows Bhutan.
Group B’s first game on Monday afternoon between Afghanistan and Bhutan was expected to produce the biggest margin of victory as the highest ranked team of the tournament faced the lowest but Bhutan proved everybody wrong as they only lost 3-0 and gave the Afghans a couple of scares too.
However the second match of the group later in the evening between Maldives and Sri Lanka turned out to be record breaking. The result wasn’t a surprise as Maldives was expected to win but even the most ardent Maldives supporter wouldn’t have predicted a 10-0 victory!
The result saw Maldives break their own record of the highest margin of victory. In 2005, they had thumped Afghanistan 9-1.
This result would be forever remembered in Maldives’ history but one man stole the show and that man is their captain Ali Ashfaq, who scored six.
In the process, Ashfaq not only created a new record of most goals in a SAFF Championship match but also became the all-time top scorer in the competition’s history. The 28-year-old broke Indian football legend Bhaichung Bhutia’s five-year old record.
Bhaichung has scored eleven and coming into SAFF 2013, current India skipper Sunil Chhetri was hoping to break that record as he has nine. However Ashfaq, who had eight prior to the tournament, took his tally to 14 and already is the overwhelming favourite to be this edition’s top scorer and best player.
While it was complete Maldives domination from start to finish, the sending off of Sri Lanka goalkeeper Mohamed Imran in the 21stminute contributed to the scoreline.
But no one can take anything away from Maldives and Ashfaq. They have started SAFF 2013 by making history and will hope to end it by lifting their second title.