SAFF Championship 2018 Final, India vs Maldives: Preview, When and Where to Watch on TV, Date, and Time
The Indian team is the only unbeaten side in the tournament. Stephen Constantine's men won both their group stage games with a 2-0 scoreline -- the first one was against Sri Lanka and the second against Maldives itself.
However, there was a little concern shown by Constantine as the Indian team was not convincing in their wins and should have easily managed to score a lot more goals in these two matches.
They faced a resurgent Pakistani side in the Semifinal clash and that is when the entire team became alive. It was a closely-contested encounter with neither of the sides finding the net in the first half. Pakistan's custodian Yusuf Butt made some acrobatic saves to deny the Indians on multiple occasions.
One of the finds of the tournament – Manvir Singh – took the matter in his own hands (feet here) as he scored a brace in the 2nd half. The first goal came in the 49th minute and was a tap-in courtesy of a pinpoint cross from the left flank.
Lalliazula Chhangte looked in great knick and was right in the middle of the action when he was brought on in place of Nikhil Poojary in the 68th minute. The super sub ran down the middle, sidestepped two defenders and gave a perfectly waited pass to Vinit Rai, who just had to roll the ball towards Manvir, who blasted it home for India's 2nd goal in the 69th minute from the edge of the box in some style. However, following a rough challenge, Manvir had to be substituted for Sumeet Passi and missed out on a possible hat trick.
Manvir Singh was deservedly named the Most Valuable Player on the day. Indian keeper Vishal Kaith was also good as usual and the best part about the match against Pakistan was that each player contributed to the win.
Sumeet Passi netted the third goal for India in the 84th minute with a sublime header from a pitch-perfect cross from Ashique from the left flank. It was also Passi's birthday and he could not have asked for a better gift. The Blue Tigers now had a three-goal cushion and ensured they are in an excellent position to win comfortably.
All was going well, but the game took an ugly turn in the 86th minute as Chhangte got into an altercation with Mohsin Ali off the ball and both the players were given marching orders. It was a matter of young blood but the Indian needs to show more discipline and play with composure.
Hasan Bashir scored the consolation goal for Pakistan in the 87th minute, and it was a belter from way outside the box. The Pakistani team needs to be lauded for their efforts as they made it to the semifinals in some style after being dormant from International football for some time.
Maldives, on the other hand, also had an eventful semifinal as they defeated Nepal 3-0. The Maldivian players looked in great knick as Nepal is no easy team to defeat and to do it with such a margin is commendable. The upcoming final match of the SAFF Championship promises to be a nail-biter. The Maldivian side played with tremendous grit and determination to reach the final.
Ibrahim Waheed Hassan scored a brace for Maldives in the semifinal and he is one player Indian defenders will need to mark closely as he is lethal when given space.
India defeated Maldives 2-0 in the group stage game but playing in the final is a different ball game all together so it will be interesting to see if the young Indian players -- being led by Subhashish Bose -- can handle the pressure to clinch the trophy.
Here is all you need to know about the Final of the 2018 SAFF Championship:
Date: September 15, 2018
Event: India vs Maldives, Final, SAFF Championship
Time: 6:30 PM, Indian Standard Time
Venue: Bangabandhu National Stadium, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Broadcast: D Sports
Live Stream: www.dsports.in (unconfirmed)
You can also Catch ALL the LIVE updates of the match on Sportskeeda!
Do you think India will be able to retain the title and become SAFF Champions again? Do share your opinion in the comments section below.