The Blue Tigers failed to replicate their semi-final performance and went down against the Maldives in the SAFF Cup final.
A wasteful India were handed the defeat by the Maldives in the final of the SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018 in Dhaka as they went past the favourites by a 2-1 margin. A goal in each half saw Maldives double their lead before substitute Sumeet Passi scored India’s only goal in the first minute of injury time. Despite beating their opponents previously in the group stages earlier in the month, India looked clueless against the Red Snappers and individual mistakes let the Indians down as Maldives went on to win the trophy.
In the following, Khel Now takes a look on how the Indian players performed in the final encounter of the Suzuki SAFF Cup 2018.
Watch: India 1-2 Maldives highlights
Vishal Kaith- 5/10
Kaith did not face any real trouble in the entire game except in the 19th and 66th minute when he was forced to charge down and was beaten for both the goals. His only proper save came in the last minute of the injury time when he dived to his right to save another counter-attack.
Davinder Singh– 4/10
The fullback had a below average first half defensively as there were not any attacks down the right flank but was not of any help in the attacking half either. With Nikhil Poojary making constant runs ahead of him he could have made a few overlapping runs to help the winger but rather just sat back in a conservative manner. He was then replaced by Germanpreet Singh as the second half began.
Sarthak Golui- 4/10
Sarthak was in partial guilt for both of Maldives’ goals as his lazy defending allowed the opposition forwards to make the runs and find open space on goal. He was caught out of position a few times and had an awful defensive partnership with Subashish Bose.
Salam Ranjan Singh– 4/10
Though Singh did not really have to do much of defending in the first half but he lost possession to Hamza Mohammad in his own half who then found Ali Fasir with an inch-perfect goal for Maldives’ second goal.
Subashish Bose- 4/10
Bose, in charge of the team, had a disastrous first half as he was easily beaten for pace couple of times and had left plenty of space for Maldivian forward Ibrahim who scored the first goal. He was also responsible for a couple of rash challenges in both the halves for which he received a yellow in the later stages of the first half.
Vinit Rai- 5.5/10
Vinit had a decent enough game in the midfield as he was mostly seen lying a bit deep and dictating the game. He was in charge of the midfield and did a good job when it came to distributing the ball and dictating the temperament of the game. But he was nowhere near his semi-final performance and was caught in no man’s land in opposition’s counter-attacks.
Anirudh Thapa- 5.5/10
Thapa was once again the engine of the team having present in every corner of the pitch and was the only bright side of the Blue Tigers. Thapa created plenty of chances, most of them being from the set pieces but failed to manage to feed the perfect ball to end in the back of the net.
When India were trailing 2-0 and were all out on attack, he was there to fulfill his defensive duties and managed to stop a couple of counter-attacks with his blistering runs. Hitesh Sharma replaced him in the 73rd minute of the game.
Ashique Kuruniyan- 4.5/10
The left-footed winger had a poor game and was seen dead tired to make the runs in the later stage of the game. Ashique featured in the left wing and found himself plenty of space down the wings in the first half, but his deliveries were consistently poor. With Bose making forward runs and leaving space in the back, he was not of any help in tracking back too.
Nikhil Poojary- 5.5/10
Nikhil on the other hand or the other wing had a pretty decent outing. He seemed full of energy throughout the 90 minutes and was making those runs down the right flank. In both the halves, Poojary managed to swing in a few crosses to the box but the strikers failed to be at the end of those crosses.
In the 91st minute of the game, he managed to cut in a low cross from the edge of the box to feed Sumeet Passi for India’s only goal of the match.
Farukh Choudhary- 3.5/10
Farukh was the most wasteful player on the pitch and was the worst of all when it came to giving it all in the final. In the first half itself, he had three clear chances on goal but did not manage to keep a single shot on target. He was not quite invisible in the second half too before being replaced by Sumeet Passi after India went 2-0 behind.
Manvir Singh- 4.5/10
Though Manvir Singh failed to write his name on the scoresheet he did manage to have a decent game up front. In the first half, he found Farukh a couple of times inside the box but the latter failed to convert the chances. He too was amidst action a handful of times inside the box but failed to trouble the Maldivian goalkeeper.
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Germanpreet Singh 4/10
The midfielder came on in the beginning of the second half to replace Davinder Singh but did not make much of a difference in the right flank. Unlike Singh, he made a few attacking runs but his defensive skills were not tested as Maldives did not make any attack from his side.
Sumeet Passi- 5/10
Despite having scored a goal in the semi-final, Passi was left out from the starting line-up and was only brought on after India were two goals down. Right from the moment, he was on, he showed clear intent to score and finally got his reward in the first minute of the injury time as he tapped in a low cross from Nikhil Poojary.
Hitesh Sharma- 5/10
Hitesh was the last throw of Constantine’s dice as he was brought on to replace a tiring Anirudh Thapa in the 73rd minute. He seemed to be the right choice to replace Thapa and did well in his short cameo. He provided good support to Manvir and Passi up front was making those late runs to disrupt the Maldivian defence.