India fell defeated 1-2 against Maldives in the 2018 SAFF Cup final at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka on Saturday. While the Maldives scored a goal in either half, the only Indian goal came in the added extra time of the second half, courtesy of Sumeet Passi. India, however, started on a positive note, but a pair of brilliantly executed counterattacks and a resilient defensive screen from the Maldivian Islanders shattered the dream of the defending champions to get their eighth SAFF title.
India was the brightest side at the start of the match as they continued to push the Maldives to their limit until they scored against the execution of the play in the 19th minute. In a quick counterattack move, Naiz Hussain played a deft delivery to Ibrahim Hussain just to see him cheerfully score the first goal before the 20 minute mark. Meanwhile, this was the first instance in the SAFF Cup 2018 where India was behind its opponents.
India, in their quest for a draw, approached a few times, but the attackers were losing the delicacy against the opposition goal. In the half hour mark, Ashique handed a low cross from the left flank to Farukh who lost her balance to lose the opportunity. In the resulting corner, Subhasish jumped to head home, but Maldivian goalkeeper Mohamed Faisal cleared the ball.
One minute later, Manvir Singh, who was the top scorer of the SAFF Cup 2018, got hooked to another attack but could not find the back of the net. India headed to the locker room behind the lone target.
Maldives doubled their lead in the 68th minute. In another fast counterattack, Hamzath Mohamed beat the Indian defense line to slip to Ali Fasir, who slipped through the back of the Indian goal.
Subhasish received another tempting opportunity to break the Maldivian defense from a corner well taken by Hitesh in the 79th minute. He was left completely unmarked and a touch could have done the trick for India, but the captain did not succeed to see that the ball was out of game.
Sumeet Passi dedicated a little life to the game by scoring a goal for India in added time, but it was too late for them. In a cross from the right wing of Nikhil, Sumeet got her to break the solid Maldivian defense finally.
The Maldivian goalkeeper came out with another pair of terrible saves to deny the Indians a draw.