One team has scored 18 goals in 3 matches on their way to the semi-final, another managed to win 1 game out of 3 due to an own goal. The former is Maldives and the latter India. You can easily guess who are the favourites.
The confidence is oozing out of the Maldives team. Coach Urbanyi almost brushed aside indian challenge in his comment,
This Indian team is a mere shadow of the old one. Nothing credible in it. We would not let the history repeat itself.
By ‘history’ of course he reminded that like in 2011, the semi-final line ups will again see Nepal taking on Afghanistan and India facing Maldives. India and Afghanistan had qualified for the final that time.
This time around though, Maldives and even Indian fans are not giving Indian football team a chance. That the Indian football team has qualified for the semi-final due to plan luck is widely agreed. An own goal in the Pakistan game gave them win despite a sub-mediocre performance. This was followed by a superb last minute free-kick goal that saved India from a humiliating defeat against Bangladesh. And then a loss against Nepal by 2-1 completed the sordid story.
Indian football team is in its weakest best. Add to that the suspension of Sunil Chhetri who may well have played his last match in SAFF Cup 2013.
Apart from the last few minutes in the game against Nepal, India have played 4-4-1-1 or 4-5-1 formatio with a lone striker upfront and that lone striker was Sunil Chhetri. Now that he is out, Wim may be forced to play 4-4-2 in which case both Robin Singh and Jeje Lalpekhluah may start upfront. Robin did not have much of play time with the national side and Jeje has been seen in an unusual role in the left half.
To overcome Maldives challenge, not only will Indian defense have to deal with the prolific striker in Ali Ashfaq but also look for goals through non-reliable sources. For India, the challenge is to rise against all odds.
Prediction: India 0-2 Maldives