SAFF Championship 2021 Final: India vs Nepal - 3 player battles to watch out for

India will take on Nepal in the SAFF Championship 2021 final.
India will take on Nepal in the SAFF Championship 2021 final.

India take on Nepal in the SAFF Championship 2021 final on Saturday at the Maldives National Stadium, Male in the Maldives. While India will be aiming for their eighth SAFF championship title in their 12th SAFF championship final, it will be Nepal's first-ever appearance in a SAFF Championship final.

The best finish so far in the SAFF Championship for Nepal was their third-place finish way back in 1993.

The Blue Tigers finished in top spot in the tournament with 8 points from 4 games with wins over Nepal and the Maldives. The Gorkhalis have registered wins against the Maldives and Bangladesh and secured second place in the SAFF Championship 2021 with seven points from their four fixtures.

The two teams play two different styles of football with a completely different set of individuals possessing unique on-the-field skilled sets. On that note, let's delve deeper into the two teams.

Key individual battles in the SAFF Championship 2021 final

#3 Anjan Bista vs Gurpreet Singh Sandhu

Anjan Bista is the current highest scorer in the SAFF Championship 2021. (Image: GoalNepal)
Anjan Bista is the current highest scorer in the SAFF Championship 2021. (Image: GoalNepal)

Anjan Bista has been in a good run of form for Nepal in the 2021 SAFF Championship. He likes to get into pockets of space behind his markers in order to get to the loose balls inside the box.

Bista scored the all-important goal for Nepal against Bangladesh in their final league game to coast into their maiden SAFF Championship final. He is also the country's highest scorer with 2 goals.

Gurpreet Singh Sandhu has not been called in much during the tournament so far. He made some decent saves against Bangladesh and Maldives as the two sides did look intimidating on occasion but the Bengaluru FC shot-stopper was simply not challenged enough in the SAFF Championship 2021.

It will be interesting to see how Sandhu deals with a striker like Bista who likes to keep the opposition goalkeeper involved in the game throughout the 90 minutes.

#2 Rohit Chand vs Lalengmawia Ralte

Lalengmawia Ralte was impressive against Maldives. (Image: AIFF)
Lalengmawia Ralte was impressive against Maldives. (Image: AIFF)

Lalengmawia Ralte has arguably been the finest Indian player so far in the tournament. The tenacity, discipline and work-rate shown by the young defensive midfielder has allowed India to stay a very resilient side so far in the tournament despite an underwhelming showing from the team's center backs so far in the SAFF Championship 2021.

Also known just as "Apuia", the Mumbai City midfielder has made some key interceptions and played important passes to create space in the opposition half. Apuia will face a similar challenge upfront when he takes on Rohit Chand in the SAFF Championship 2021 final.

Chand started slow in the tournament but has grown ever since the win against Maldives. The experienced defensive midfielder has the added advantage of foreign exposure under his belt, which could be quite a challenge for Apuia in the SAFF Championship 2021 final.

#1 Sunil Chhetri vs Kiran Chemjong

Sunil Chhetri is the leading scorer of the tournament. (Image: SAFF)
Sunil Chhetri is the leading scorer of the tournament. (Image: SAFF)

Sunil Chhetri, without an iota of doubt, has been the talisman of Indian football for over a decade now and certainly in the current SAFF Championship. He is the tournament's highest goal scorer so far with four goals from as many fixtures. Chhetri has the knack of using his neck to get to the crosses and corners with a header.

Kiran Chemjong has been excellent so far in set piece situations. The former RG Punjab goalkeeper has great height, which allows him to latch on to loose aerial balls. Chhetri will be diversifying his position and movement inside the box in the SAFF Championship 2021 final to keep Chemjong busy.

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Edited by Rohit Mishra
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