The Indian team lost 1-2 against the Maldives in the SAFF Cup 2018 final.
Maldives scored in each half while the Indians just managed to get a consolation goal in the extra time of the second half.
Indians, as expected, were the better side of the two in the initial phase of the match until the Maldives scored against the run of the game in the 19th minute.
India came close to equalizing but their attackers were not clinical enough. On the half-hour mark, Ashique delivered a low cross from the left flank directed to Farukh who was not able to take the opportunity well.
Such misses were a constant in the summit clash. Manvir Singh also missed a golden opportunity. Maldives doubled their lead in the 68th minute.
Sumeet Passi added some much-needed excitement for the spectators when he scored in the injury time of second half but it was a bit too late for the Indians to deny the result.
Here we take a look at three major mistakes which the Indian team made.
#3 Lack of hunger
Maldives had reached the semi-finals after some luck and a coin toss against Sri Lanka, but no one can deny their hunger in the final.
The Indian team should have taken note of the 3-0 victory Maldives got against Nepal, but it failed to do so and never really got going in the final.
Manvir Singh, the FC Goa forward was India's highest scorer in the SAFF Cup, but the Indian team failed to provide him the service which could have given tough times to the Maldivian defence.
Ashique Kuruniyan’s two assists against Pakistan should have made the team direct their attacks through him but the majority of the attacks flew from Nikhil Poojary on the right who had an average game.
Lallinzuala Chhangte’s absence through a red card in the semifinal also hampered India's hunger in the final and the lack of hunger made the team pay in the end.
#2 Complacency in preparation
The team selection, as well as the tactics, point to the fact that the tournament was not taken seriously by the AIFF. Constantine was always vocal about the U-23's not getting enough game time in the Indian Super League and a camp of 45 days was arranged to solve the matter.
The fact that there was no Afghanistan in the Cup as they have moved to Central Asian Football Association should have given confidence to the Indians, but their lack of seriousness in preparation was telling in the end.
As India is approaching the Asia Cup, Constantine needs to put serious thought on team selection as reputation is on stake given that India was the only team in the SAFF Cup which has qualified for the Asia Cup.
#1 Defensive mistakes
The first Maldives goal gave a glimpse of what this Indian defense is capable of. Yes, they can give you silly moments like this on a regular basis.
Subhasish Bose was left totally exposed by his defenders. Lack of communication was evident in the backline which allowed Ibrahim Hussain to run through an open goal.
Vishal Kaith, who had conceded just one goal in the entire SAFF Cup went on to concede one more.
Sarthak Golui's mistake on the second goal was schoolboy stuff. The Pune City defender had left Ali Fasir offside and was strolling like in a park very sure of the fact that the referee would blow his whistle.
Even Germanpreet Singh's introduction into a back three didn't solve India's problems at the back as the Maldives played direct football which paid dividends.