Other youngsters such as Davinder Singh also produced a commendable effort against the Maldives.
India defeated Maldives 2-0 in their final SAFF Cup group stage game at the Bangabandhu Stadium in Dhaka on Sunday. Although, the fixture saw the Blue Tigers keep another clean-sheet, moments of inconsistency also came into daylight, which provided the opponents chances to bury the game, which in-turn the Maldives failed to do. On the positive side, Nikhil Poojary and Manvir Singh scored their first international goals for India and helped secure top spot in Group B for the Blue Tigers.
Head coach Stephen Constantine made some changes and played a few players in different roles than their opening game against Sri Lanka. Subhashish Bose started at centre-back once again and Anirudh Thapa, the Indian captain played in a more defensive role. Here’s a look at how the Indians fared against their Maldivian counterparts on Sunday.
Vishal Kaith- 6/10
Kaith was more involved with a makeshift defense in front of him and was forced to make three saves. He, however, looked unfazed and looked to be up for all challenges. Although, he got a little rattled in the first half, the shot-stopper came back strongly in the game during the latter half.
Salam Ranjan Singh- 6.5/10
The East Bengal defender did the coach’s bidding and provided defensive stability at the back. The 22-year-old defender was one of the most experienced players in the backline and produced a commendable display against the Maldives. He is greatly repaying Constantine’s faith in him and may well be on his way as a replacement for the regulars if they under-perform this season.
Subhashish Bose- 7/10
Subhashish produced yet another good performance against the Maldivian attack and did a tremendous job in India’s final group stage game on Sunday. However, Bose looked incapable of displaying his true potential at the back, as his enterprising runs were cut off vastly due to his makeshift position.
Constantine should know better than to force a player out of his position, especially when he has been performing marvelously in his preferred role as a left-back. But, the Mumbai City defender stood tall to his new duties and produced another consistent showing.
Davinder Singh – 6.5/10
Considering that Sajid Dhot failed to impress in the previous game, it was expected that Davinder, Constantine’s find from the University Programme would be a natural pick. Singh was tasked to bring some stability on the right as well to as link-up with Poojary in attack.
Davinder Singh’s heatmap showcases his work-rate
Singh took care of his responcibilities well and made it possible for Poojary to maraud ahead with ease and pressurize the opponent defense. Despite a yellow card, his heatmap shows precisely why India have an able option at right-back.
Jerry Lalrinzuala- 6.5/10
Jerry was one of the key players for Chennaiyin FC last season and he showed why against the Maldives on Sunday. Although, he faced few challenges at the back, he overcame his earlier deficits commendably. Jerry and Subhashish both deserve the left-back spot and it remains to be seen how Constantine fits both into the lineup.
Anirudh Thapa- 7.5/10
The captain for the day, Anirudh Thapa was his usual self in the middle of the park. Thapa rallied his troops and pressured the opposition into making silly errors and made sure that India enjoyed the majority of the possession. The touchmap shows his influence on the game, which was instrumental to say the least.
Thapa was once again instrumental in India’s win against the Maldives
Vinit Rai- 6/10
An able midfielder, Rai chose to play Mozart alongside his captain Anirudh Thapa and orchestrated a symphony in attack. His attacking style and dominant display brought in a different flavour as compared to Germanpreet’s defensive traits.
Vinit also linked-up well with Farukh and Manvir upfront to keep the final third busy and entertaining. We may have the next Eugeneson Lyngdoh on our hands already.
Lalianzuala Chhangte- 6.5/10
Chhangte has so far never disaapointed in Indian colours and once again linked-up well with Jerry Lalrinzuala, as attacks continued from the left wing. He also took on the sturdy and experienced opposition defenders and ensured that he got the better of them at all times. He is surely an exciting prospect to look out for.
Farukh Choudhary- 6/10
Hailing from Maharashtra, Farukh Choudhary was touted for great things since his Real Kashmir days. He drew defenders away multiple times, which opened up the game for Poojary to score the opener, something which he did against Sri Lanka as well.
However, Farukh needs to improve his temperament as he was one of the most fouled players on the pitch and there were certainly some moments where he could have lost his cool. But overall, it was a decent performance from the Ambernath lad.
Nikhil Poojary- 7/10
Poojary scored his first international goal for India by linking-up with Farukh in a fantastic manner. The defense did not see him coming and that is a testament to the kind of player he is. The right wing is already crowded with great talent and Nikhil has now announced his contention for the spot. His heatmap shows the extent of his dominance and presence on the pitch.
Poojary scored his first goal for the country on Sunday
Manvir Singh- 7/10
Scoring his first international goal and giving the gaffer something to boast about seemed to be the objective of Manvir’s performance on Sunday. He was up in the business of the opposition from the word go and saw to it that there was not even a single error left unpunished.
His dominant presence complimented by his physical attributes made him one of the Indian players to look out for and he was rewarded with a goal for his perseverance.
Sumeet Passi- 5/10
Passi has always been excellent coming off the bench and he showed why again on Sunday. Although, he has not been able to score yet for India, he made his presence felt in the short time he played.
Vignesh Dakshinamurthy- 5/10
Vignesh was recently signed by Mumbai City and he showed his new owners why they had invested in him. Fiery down the wing, the youngster was impressive and enjoyed his game against tired legs.
Hitesh Sharma- N/A
Came on in the closing stages to wrap up the match and strutted his stuff on the pitch. The youngster deserves at least one start going forward, having been magical in ATK stripes last season.