SAFF CUP 2018: YOUTHFUL INDIA TO FACE MALDIVES
SAFF Cup 2018 which has begun on the 4th of this month saw the defending champion, India easily script a victory of 2-0 against Sri Lanka in its first match of the group. The Indian team which mainly consist of the U-23 will be facing Maldives on the last game of the group match. Ahead of the game, Stephen Constantine said that
" the boys have done well, but they need to play smart and score goals with fewer mistakes... they are young and such games can improve them better".
The Maldives under the head coach Petar Segrt., will not try to give away three points to the Blue Tigers as both teams are contending for a place in the Semi-final.
MATCH OVERVIEW--INDIA VS MALDIVES
The Blue Tigers which features mostly the U-23 will miss big names like Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu while giving way to younger names such as Ashique Kuruniyan and Lallianzuala Chhangte, who netted the goals against Sri Lanka.
The Maldives who have a goalless draw against Sri Lanka will also be looking for a win to have a place in the semi-final of the cup. They will depend on the striking ability of Ibrahim Waheed Hassan and senior player Ali Fasir.
The last match between the two teams saw India beat Maldives 3-2 in the 2015 SAFF Cup semi-final with goals from Sunil Chhetri and Jeje for India, while Nashid and Ali scored for Maldives.
India has won the SAFF Cup a record 7 times in 1993,1997,1999,2005,2009,2011,2015 while bagging the silver thrice in 1995,2008 and 2013.
In SAFF Cup 2008 Maldives beat India 1-0 to clinch their first championship and finished second in 1997,2003, and 2009.
India has never won the AFC Asia Cup. The best finish for India is when they were the runner-up in 1964 while Maldives have never qualified for the tournament.
India leads Maldives in the head-to-head record as they have won 13 and lost three times and two draws out of the 18 games.
India will be under the captaincy of Subhashish Bose, who plies his trade for Mumbai City FC in the Indian Super League. Striker Chhangte and Kuruniyan will be on the front line against Maldives.
Sumeet Passi is the only Indian player above the age of 23 in the current squad.
Ghanee, the players with 50 caps for Maldives, 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 in New Zealand while has four wins against Sri Lanka, Kenya, Chinese Taipei, and lifted the intercontinental cup. The Blue Tigers have conceded 2 goals and scored 13 goals.
Maldives on their last five games has one win against Bhutan and three losses against Singapore, Palestine, and Oman while one draw against Sri Lanka. The Maldives have conceded 15 goals and scored 11 goals.
India(4-3-3): Vishal, Sarthak, Dhot, Salam, Bose, Chhangte, Thapa, Passi, Farukh, Germanpreet, 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.