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Poojari 36′
Manvir 44′    


India played some resounding football to wrap up a terrific group stage for them. Despite the scorelines being the same as it was against Sri Lanka, the Blue Tigers played much more effective, fluid football which must’ve impressed the manager. The strike-duo of Manvir Singh and Farukh Choudhary look impressive, with the former being excellent with his hold-up play, movement and rounding up his performance with a great goal. Maldives huffed and puffed to try and get that goal, but this defeat puts them exactly tied with Sri Lanka in terms of points and goal difference. It will be found out who will be going through the group as runners-up, but something which has been set is the highly-anticipated match between India and Pakistan in the semi-finals, which is all set to take place on Wednesday. This is Uttiyo Sarkar signing out for Khel Now. Thanks and Good night, Ladies and Gentlemen! 

90+5′ Maldives manage to do something as they move through the left, as they move through the left and send in a cross which is easily collected by Kaith, which is followed by the final whistle. 

90+4′ India are controlling the game at a point when Maldives should be putting men forward. They look to tired to attack, but will aim for one last big move to try and get that goal. 

90+1′ Big Chance for India to wrap up the game. A great, curling ball from Subhashish on the left meets the head of Sumit Passi, who just couldn’t accurately aim his ball into the net. 

90′ CLOSE! A terrific free-kick from a wide angle from Fasir almost pops into the net, but Kaith does brilliantly to make a diving save and put it out for a corner. 

89′ Despite being visibly short on energy, Maldives are putting it all on the line to get that one goal. India are being stubborn and have been excellent through the game defensively and need to hold on for a few minutes. 

86′ Nikhil makes way for Hitesh Sharma, who makes his first appearance in the SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018. 

84′ Nikhil Poojari seems to be down once again with a knock and is attended to by the physios. It seems that will be the end of his game, as there have been indications made to substitute him. 

82′ CHANCE! Thapa plays in a great pass through the middle to Manvir, who finds some space outside the box and hits a powerful shot straight at Faisal, who scuffles at first but fimrly holds onto it. 

80′ Ali Fasir is brilliantly sent through on goal after a clever pass from Mohamed, but Salam Ranjan swiftly comes through to put an end to the attack and steals the ball from the attacker. 

78′ Maldives create another decent chance after a freekick deflects into the path of their striker, but Kaith gets to the ball before him to smartly collect it and not allow him to capitalize on it. 

75′ Just like in the early minutes, Maldives now have India pegged back into their own half. They desperately need a goal to stay alive in the game and are playing their hearts out looking for that. 

73′ CHANCE! Naiz is looking dangerous ever since coming on and he controls the ball amazingly in the middle and tricks his  man before taking a left-foot shot which is just wide of the goal. 

71′ Maldives finally churn up a decent move, with substitute Hassan Naiz bringing the ball into the box before passing it to Ibrahim Waheed, whose ambitious long shot is blocked by Rai. 

69′ Maldives make another change, as Fasir comes on for Asadhulla Abdulla

67′ Substitution for India. Sumit Passi is brought on for Farukh Choudhary. Another wasted chance for the Blue TIgers after that, as Manvir goes free into the opposing penalty box but his cut-off ball to Passi is cleared off. 

65′ Some poor defending enables the Blue Tigers to get another shot on target. Thapa’s floating corner meets the header of Manvir, but the weak attempt is easily collected by Faisal. 

63′ Substitution for Maldives. Mohamed Arif goes on for Hassan Naiz. Meanwhile decent chance for India, as Poojari sends in another dangerous ball into the box which is pushed away by Faisal. 

61′ Manvir Singh has been excellent leading the line for India today. He’s used his physical nature to his advantage to bully Maldives and created a decent chance when he stole the ball and played it to the right, but a poor ball helped the ball back to the Maldives. 

58′ Worrying signs for India as Nikhil Poojari is brought down after receiving a crunching challenge. Thankfully, he manages to get up and play a few moments later and helps his coach breathe a sigh of relief. 

55′ CHANCE! An electrifiying counter-attack from India as Manvir is fed in a ball on the right wing and uses his power to get past Maldives’ defender, before rounding up a great pass into the box for Farukh, whose shot is bravely held onto by the onrushing Faisal who injures himself in the process. 

53′ Davinder Singh is shown a yellow card after he thwarts a Maldives counter-attack through a nasty elbow. 

50′ A dangerous move through the right from India, as Poojari finds some space to run into before putting in a dangerous cross into the back post which is headed away for a corner by Maldives. 

47′ CHANCE FOR MALDIVES! India are again vulnerable to their dangerous throw-in and the ball finds it way to the back post to substitute Mohamed, whose shot hits the side-netting. 

46′ The 2nd half kicks off! India will look to add more, while Maldives need something to salvage a place in the semi-finals. Meanwhile India make a change, as Vignesh Murthy comes on for Chhangte. Maldives also make an attacking substitution, with #10 Mohamed coming on. 

HALF-TIME ANALYSIS: India are playing like the way they should’ve against Sri Lanka and seem to have found that clinical touch they were missing on the day. The Blue Tigers have absolutely floored Maldives with some dazzling moves and some beautiful goals from Poojari and Manvir has given them a decisive lead. Maldives need to produce a better performance in the 2nd half to have any chance of making the semi-finals, while the Blue Tigers will look to add to their misery and score more in the 2nd half. We’ll be back with 2nd half updates after some-time! 

45+1′ CHANCE FOR MALDIVES! They almost come up with an instant response before half-time when Ibrahim Hussain makes a terrific run into the middle from the right wing, going past Rai before taking a low shot which narrowly goes wide of the target. 

44′ GOOALL! MANVIR SCORES! The striker manages to capitalize from some poor defending from Maldives and easily gets psat his defender after receiving a pass from Thapa. He rounds Faisal before easily puting the ball into goal to give India a comfortabel lead. 2-0!

43′ Things just got a lot more complicated for Maldives. They will now need to look for an equalizer or atleast hold onto this margin if they’re to qualify for the semi-finals. 

40′ Chance! The strikers are slowly looking to get into the game themselves and Manvir gets a chance at a free header when Vinit Rai’s cross finds him, but he sees his attempt safely held onto by Faisal. 

38′ Poojari makes up for his earlier miss in special fashion. The dazzling winger seems to have refound his touch after a terrible injury lay-off and given India an important lead! 

36′ GOOOAALLL! INDIA LEAD! A beautiful move from the Blue Tigers which is all because of Nikhil Poojari. The winger picks up the ball from the right wing, before cutting inside the middle and plays a terrific one-two pass with Farukh before cooly putting the ball into the back of the net. 1-0!

35′ The energy levels in the game seems to have dipped a bit with only minutes remaining till half-time. After such an electric start to the game, both sides will be frustrated to have come up with nothing to show till now. 

32′ Another chance for India! After a corner isn’t cleared away that well, Chhangte finds some room on the right to send in a ball to Manvir, who has a lot of space to take a shot, which is bravely blocked by a Maldives defender and sent out of play. 

31′ Almost trouble for India. A throw-in to the box isn’t cleared away that well by the Blue Tigers and Mohamed Irufaan takes full advantaeg to pluck in a shot which is comfortably saved by Kaith. 

27′ Ali Samooh seems to be in a spot of bother on the pitch. After taking a bad tackle from Thapa, the Maldives defender has stayed down for a long time and is being looked into by the physio. Meanwhile, on the sidelines, a small but loud bunch of Indian fans are holding their national flag high and roaring on for their Blue Tigers. 

24′ Chance for India! Thapa plays in a beautiful looping pass to Farukh Choudhary in the middle, setting him through on goal, but the strikers’ poor shot from just inside the box is easily held onto by Mohamed Faisal. 

22′ After that bright start in the game, India seem to have become a bit sloppy in attack. They had a chance to create a move through the right, but after a throw-in was poorly wasted by India, it seems like their energy level might’ve gone down. 

20′ Maldives are aiming to hurt India through the set-pieces and use their physical strength to their advantage. But the Blue Tigers have held their ground so far and been able to clear out every chance through a set-piece so far. 

17′ Chhangte is being a menace in the left-wing again with his pace and crossing ability. He again finds some space and sends in a promising cross, but neither Choudhary nor Manvir can get to it before being cleared away. 

14′ That was a golden opportunity for Poojari to put the Blue Tigers ahead. But Maldives seem to have become wary after that and trying to assert more control on the ball after that. 

11′ WHAT A MISS! India churn out a terrorizing counter-attack which is started by Chhangte, who finds the ball in the right wing and sends in a beautiful ball which finds the free header of Pujari, who can only disappointingly blast it up the goal. 

10′ Nervy for Kaith. Maldives Akram Ghanee takes an ambitious shot from the half-line after seeing the keeper out his line and Kaith has to scamper back to push it out for a corner. 

9′ CHANCE! India threaten through the wings and after finding the ball on the left-flank, Chhangte sweeps in a deep ball into the backpost which is met by Poojari. While that header is found by a Maldivies defender, his clearing header hits the post and is thankfully cleared out. 

7′ Maldives have India pegged back in these early minutes. They need a point much more than the Blue Tigers and are going all in to get that early goal today. 

4′ Ouch! Bose seems to have taken a nasty one in the stomach after a shot from Ahmed Imaaz hits him right above his pelvic area. But he seems to have recovered from it soon enough. 

2′ Disastrous play from India, as Subhashish’s poor back pass almost allows Maldives’ striker to capitalize on it. But the alert Vishal Kaith charges off his line to clear the ball out of danger. 

1′ AND WE’RE UNDERWAY! India are in orange and  attacking from the left to right and start to create chances right from the get-go. 

6:25 PM The teams are making their way into the field. The pre-match activities will now take place before the game kicks off in a few minutes. Can India thwart Maldives, or will they suffer a shocking defeat? Stay tuned to find out folks!

6:20 PM For India, the equations are simple tonight. They need to win or draw to top Group B and will go onto face arch-rivals Pakistan in the semi-finals in that case. For Maldives, even a draw will be enough to qualify for the semifinals, but they need to win by a big margin to have a chance at topping the group. With both sides needing a win, this could turn out to be an exciting bout!

6:15 PM Some interesting changes by coach Constantine, who seems to want a better performance from the Blue Tigers this time out. After impressive cameos against Sri Lanka, both Nikhil Poojari and Manvir Singh have been awarded with starts, while Jerry Lalrinzuala and Davinder Singh get starts. Nikhil Thapa is awarded the captain’s armband after his energetic display the other day. Maldives seem to have set up in a defensive formation and needing only one point to qualify, one can understand why. 

6:10 PM Team News:

India XI: Kaith, Davinder, Salam Ranjan, Bose, Jerry, Poojari, Rai, Thapa(C), Chhangte, Choudhary, Manvir.

Subs: Karanjit, Patil, Dhot, G. Singh, Golui, Sharma, Murthy,  Passi.

Maldives XI: Faisal, Samooh, Yoosuf, Irufaan, Arif, Abdulla, A. Ghanee(C), Hussain, Majuthaaz, Waheed, Imaaz.

Subs: Shareef, Tholaal, Numaan, Fasir, Mohamed, Naiz, Ghanee, Nihaan, Samdhooh. 

6:05 PM India are back to the Bangabandhu Stadium and will hope for a better result than before. While the Blue Tigers were dominant against Sri Lanka, Coach Stephen Constantine demanded better from his players after the game. For Maldives, they need to survive and even a 1-0 defeat can be enough for them to qualify for the semi-finals. Will India be able to put on a better performance or will Maldives be able to attain crucial points? Stay tuned to find out!

Also Read- We started off with a good win but I’m not happy with the performance– Stephen Constantine

6:00 PM Hello everyone! It is an amazing evening here in the capital of Bangladesh, Dhaka and it is a delight to host India’s SAFF Cup Group B game against the Maldives. The weather is just perfect and all the spectators are also coming in to experience the two sides plying their trade against each other this evening. Stay tuned, this is your host Uttiyo Sarkar and enjoy the game.

Match preview- India look to continue their momentum against Maldives in SAFF Cup clash