There are very few times when you see a scoreline of 4-0 ans still you got to admit that the loosing side was as good a team. The India vs Afghanistan match for the SAFF Championship title is one such rare occasion. The scoreline seems flattering but the real picture in the field was different.
The match was set in pace by Afghanistan. They were raiding the Indian defense time and again right from the word Go in what a looked like one-sided game for Afghanistan for the first few minutes. There were 5 shots on goal, not all of them threat though, by Afghans in the 1st 12 minutes. Haroon Fakruddin and Belal Arezou’s speed kept Indian defense helpless. It was only Kranjit who kept the sheet clean. India was nowhere in the picture as they barely managed to stitch passes together. The Afghani star Djelaluddin was foilin every Indian move right in the MF with his literally towering presence.
Afghanistan could have gone 1-0 up right in the 15th minute. Gouramangi was sloppy in clearing the ball and it landed in front of Arezou. He passes it to Sanjar Ahmedi who just could not get a touch on the ball in front of an open goal.
India’s first real attack came only in 16th minute of the game. Climax took a free-kick from a bit outside the box and it just sailed over the horizontal.
In the 24th minute of the game, Belal missed a sitter that is not expected from him, Mashriqi passed the through ball to Belal who outpaced the 2 defenders all the way to shoot right into goalkeeper’s body. A little chip over him would have made it 1-0 for Afghanistan.
The last 20 minutes of the first half saw some brilliant moves by India. Once it was Climax who put a brilliant low long ball accurately for Clifford who lacked pace to make the most of it. Then it was Nirmal Chhetri’s solo run on the right flank but the cross although in the right direction was low and could not penetrate.
In the 2nd half India came back strongly. There were nice crisp passes and one touch possession football. Gouramangi and Jeje troubled Afghan goalie right in the 46th minute. Midfield started to look better but Jeje was a bit slow with the ball and Anthony Pareira disappointed and wasted many of the good work.
But the presssure started showing up in Afghanistan ranks. This earned a penalty for India in the 63rd minute. A brilliant long ball fell in front of Jeje inside the box but the lone defender behind him tripped Jeje. The Afghan goalkeeper rushed to the referee, pushed him and abused which did no good to Afghanistan and earned him a red-card. Suni calmly converted the penalty.
The second goal also saw brilliant assist from Sunil and then a classy finish by Clifford Miranda by dribbling past one defender and netting the ball in acute angle.
Henceforth, it was India all over. Some brilliant passing and quick moves were treat to the eyes. The 3rd goal came from one such move when Chhetri ran like a bullet with the ball and passed it to Jeje in the box who in his 1st touch sent the ball home. But Sunil had to limp out.
Sushil Singh, who came in place of Chhetri also left a mark of brilliance. The young kid who is compared to the legendary Baichung Bhutia showed why it is so. The ball that he recieved about 15 yards outside the box was perfectly shielded by him. He took a turn, went ahead 2 steps and fired the bullet from outside the box right over the goalkeeper who could do nothing.