Dhaka, September 12: Striker Manvir Singh scored a brace as defending champions India stormed into final of the SAFF Suzuki Cup when they beat Pakistan by 3-1 goals in the second semi-final held on Wednesday at Bangabandhu National Stadium.The 7-time Champions of SAFF Championship India will now play the final against Maldives, which bagged their spot of final by beating Nepal by 3-0 goals in the first semi-final.
The final is scheduled to be held on Saturday (Sept 15) at the same venue.
It was an entertaining match which saw both teams went attacks and counter attacks throughout the play. Pakistan started strong early on, flourishing upfront but the blue Tigers, led by Thapa and Vinit from the middle and Ashique and Nikhil Poojary from the flanks hosted an array of attacks onto the Pakistani half. Pakistan rattled the Indian defence, especially in the first half, but couldn’t produce any goal.
Pakistan went attack early in the very 1st minute when Muhammad Ali’s right footed shot off Hassan Bashir pass from outside the box but misses to the left.
Pakistan again came close of scoring in the 7th minute when Mohammad Riaz header from the centre of the box off a cross from Mehmood Khan missed to the right the target following a set piece situation.
India got a great chance of scoring in the 25th minute. Farukh ran down with the ball from the middle and took off the marker which a back touch, passed it back to Manvir, but the forward’s attempt was brilliantly fisted for safety by Pakistani custodian Yousuf Ijaz Butt.
India missed another scoring chance in the 38th minute when Faruk Hazi Kasam’s left footed placing shot from the center of the box went out of play beside the right side bar.
Pakistan was deprived from a certain goal in the 46th minute when skipper Saddam Hussain’s close header off a curling cross from Hassan Naweed narrowly missed the crossbar by an inch.
After the resumption, India took control of the second half with an organised display.
Manvir Singh finally broke the deadlock for India in the 48th minute.
Ashique Kuruniyan ran down and provided a cross to onrushing Manvir who placed the ball home from near post with a right footed placing shot. Manvir again doubled the lead for India in the 69th minute. The lanky striker blasted into the top corner with a perfect right footed shot from the right side of the box off a short pass from Vinit Rai before substitute Lallianzuala did the spade work from the left flank.
Substitute Sumeet Passi party scoring the third goal for India in the 84th minute with a close header utilizing on a cross from Ashique Kuruniyan from left flank.
Hasan Bashir pulled one back for Pakistan in the 88th minute when a loose header fell on him as his scorcher blazed through the left bottom corner and India custodian Vishal Kaith could do but to watch the ball.
Lallianzuala Chhangte of India and Mohsin Ali of Pakistan were shown red card in the 86th minute for violent conduct.
Earlier, India got off to an auspicious start as blanked 2-0 to Sri Lanka in their tournament opening match. The blue Tigers with big names like Sunil Chhetri, Jeje Lalpekhlua, Sandesh Jhingan, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu missing, the young U-23 squad – led by Subhashish Bose – also recorded a 2-0 goal win over the Maldives in second Group match.
On the other hand, Pakistan began their campaign with a comfortable 2-1 victory over Nepal in Group A.
However Pakistan lost to 0-1 to Bangladesh in their second group match before ending their group stage campaign with an overwhelming 3-0 victory over Bhutan.