SAFF Championship: India face Maldives test, should make it to the final


The Jeje-Sunil combo upfront has finally started to click for India in the SAFF Championship 2011. And just in the nick of time, Jeje Lalpekhluah has found back his scoring boots.

India face gritty Maldives in the 1st semi-final match of SAFF Cup 2011 on 9th December. Maldives has been an old rival for India and have troubled them before. India met Maldives in the 2008 edition of SAFF Championship in the final which took place in Sri Lanka. India lost that match 1-0 in midst of ferocious Maldivian crowd that travelled to Sri Lanka in large numbers.

Again in 2009 SAFF Championship, Maldives was in front of India’s young side in the final. But, India clinched the title defeating Maldives in penalties.

This time around Maldives are not as strong as they were back in 2009, nevertheless they are potent of getting the result. They have started the tournament poorly by drawing against lowly Pakistan and Nepal but topped the group by defeating Bangladesh 3-1. Highly rated strikers Ashfaq Ali and Thariq Ahmed who scored a brace in the 3-1 win against Bangladesh along with Ibrahim Fazeel  have found their touch. This fact should be worrying India.

Maldivian coach Istvan Urbanyi on the other hand denies that he is worried about India. In an interview he says,

“We just don’t care as to who we will be playing in the semis. We are ready for any team”

India have finally come out of their shell against Sri Lanka. In the 1st match they were not allowed space by Afghanistan. In the 2nd match against Bhutan, they scored 5 goals but missed as many. Even 5-0 win could not impress many as India lacked speed and creativity in the game. Even in Sri Lanka game, the form continued, rather looked worse in the 1st half. Every attack build up was scuppered by quick Sri Lankan defense before it could be dangerous.Frustrated Indian players made a lot of mis-passes.

But to everyone’s relief, the Indian team in the 2nd half was completely different. Waves of attacks rained inside the Sri Lankan box. Anthony Pereira recovered from his bad patch and so did Climax and Rocus Lamare. Together they played excellent one-touch football.

Jeje started combining well with Sunil and made brilliant moves by playing walls and through runs. The 3-0 scoreline is a modesty as many goals could have been scored. The pressure was so much that Sri Lanka’s best player Bandara scored an own-goal!

If India continue to play from where they left in Sri Lanka match, Maldives should be an easy task for them. But a knock-out match is a different ball game. The one who makes most of the scoring chances is going to win.


  1. maldives fans… ur soon gonna find out why this team wen to the asia cup and lifted afc challenge cup among other titles.. ur gonna see Gen next india going to the final

  2. Maldives will win…India is playing 80s football…they better learn the modern passing game from maldives

Leave a Reply