The Indian national football team faced familiar opposition in the final of the SAFF Championship 2018 when they took on the Maldives side at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The Blue Tigers have been undefeated throughout the tournament and were in high spirits going into the match, after a convincing 3-1 victory over fierce rivals Pakistan in the semifinals a couple of days ago.
The match started on a poor note for India as they went down a goal in the nineteenth minute despite dominating proceedings on the pitch. The first half ended 1-0 for the Maldives and India began the second half with confidence.
However, a momentary lapse in the communication led to the second goal for the Maldives. Sumeet Passi scored at the death to spark hopes of a late comeback but it proved to be too little, too late for India.
Maldives held on to their lead and clinched the SAFF Championship for just the second time in their history (first win in 2008) denying India a chance to defend their title and win it for the eight time.
India Starting XI
Vishal Kaith (5/10) - The Indian goalkeeper had a quiet first half until the moment the Indian defence was caught with a goal by Hussain in the 19th minute. He ended up conceding another goal in the second half.
Davinder Singh (5/10) - The young right-back had a tough time on the pitch tonight dealing with the attacking threat on his flank. As a result of this, he did not provide attacking support like he usually does and was subbed off at the start of the second half.
Salam Ranjan Singh (5.5/10) - The East Bengal man used his physicality well inside the box to deal with the Maldivian attackers. He was always a threat from set pieces and had a couple of chances from corners.
Sarthak Golui (5.5/10) - The man with the powerful arm was used again for his long throw-ins by the Indian side. He was strong with his tackling and won a lot of headers at the back.
Subhashish Bose (6/10) - The Indian captain was heavily involved in the attacking side of things as he made a lot of runs down the flank, but was good tracking back to defend as well.
Vinit Rai (6/10) - The defensive midfielder played just in front of the defence for India and made a lot of interception in between as the Maldives were active in midfield.
Anirudh Thapa (6.5/10) - The central midfielder was highly active in the middle of the park as he was the major playmaker for the Indian side. He was also deployed on set-piece duty and put in a lot of balls into the box for the attackers.
Nikhil Poojary (6.5/10) - The winger played primarily on the right flank today and had a good attacking outing making darting runs down the line. He put in a lot of crosses for the attackers inside the box and used his pace well.
Ashique Kuruniyan (6.5/10) - The young man from Kerala did well on the wings with his speed troubling the Maldivian defence. He combined well with the midfielders to create chances for the attackers.
Farukh Choudhary (6/10) - The striker played up front alongside Manvir Singh and kept making good runs into the box, but did not have many chances on the Maldives goal. He was replaced in the second half by Sumeet Passi.
Manvir Singh (6/10) - The star of the semifinals win over Pakistan had a subdued night tonight in the attack as he was heavily marked inside the box. He did have some chances on the goal but they were saved well by the Maldives keeper Faisal.
Germanpreet Singh (3/10) - Germanpreet Singh was put on by Stephen Constantine at the start of the second half replacing Davinder Singh at right back position.
Sumeet Passi (5/10) - The goalscorer from the semifinal against Pakistan was put on for the last twenty-five minutes to boost the attack as India looked for the elusive goal. He made his chance count scoring from close distance in the 92nd minute sparking hopes of a late comeback.
Hitesh Sharma (2/10) - The ATK man Hitesh Sharma was put on for the final twenty minutes as he replaced Thapa in the midfield.
Maldives Starting XI
Mohamed Faisal (6.5/10) - Faisal held his own between the sticks for the Maldives as he showed strength and confidence in his saves and cross collections.
Mohamed Samdhooh (7/10) - The left back had a productive outing on the flanks as he made a lot of inroads into the Indian half with his runs. He combined well with the midfielders ahead of him to put in crosses into the box.
Ali Samooh (7/10) - The defender was a strong presence inside the Maldives box as he won a lot of headers and made crucial clearances from the back keeping the Indian attacks at bay.
Akram Abdul Ghanee (5.5/10) - The captain of the Maldives side had the responsibility of marking Farukh Choudhary and he kept the Indian striker in check. He got injured just before the half time and was replaced by Ahmed Numaan.
Hussain Sifau Yoosuf (6/10) - The right back for the Maldivian side had a busy evening dealing with the threat of Bose and Ashique on his flank.
Ibrahim Hassan Waheed (7/10) - Waheed put in a hard shift in the middle of the park as he was heavily involved in the attacks as well as defence. He moved the ball across the pitch and was good with his distribution.
Hussain Nihaan (6.5/10) - The defensive midfielder played the connecting role between the attack and the defence for the Maldives. He executed a lot of interceptions and broke up Indian plays in the centre.
Hamza Mohamed (8/10) - The winger for the Maldives side utilized his pace well to keep the Indian defenders occupied and made a lot of dangerous runs down the flank. Hamza produced a sublime pass that split open the Indian defence and eventually led to the second goal for the Maldives.
Ibrahim Mahudhee Hussain (7.5/10) - The attacking midfielder opened the scoring continuing his good form in front of the goal with a composed finish over the keeper Kaith. He continued to
Ali Fasir (8/10) - The attacker looked in good touch with his passes and created chances for the side with his movement. He doubled the lead for the Maldives in the match after he made a brilliant run through the Indian defence and scored past the rushing Vishal Kaith.
Hassan Naiz (7/10) - The lone man up front for the Maldives side created the first goal of the match with a deft pass in the path of Ibrahim Hussain. He did well to keep the Indian defenders occupied with his runs and movement around the box.
Ahmed Numaan (6/10) - Numaan came on to replace Ghanee just before the 40th minute after he went down injured. Numaan slotted in comfortably in the defence for the Maldivian side as they kept the Indian attackers at bay.
Assadhulla Abdullah (2/10) - The striker came on for the final ten minutes to replace Naiz in the Maldivian attack.
Mohamed Arif (1/10) - Arif came on to replace the midfielder Hamza Mohamed for the final stretch of the match.