SAFF Championship 2011: Chhetri's brilliance takes India to the finals

India 3-1 Maldives
India: Syed Rahim Nabi(25'), Sunil Chhetri(P 69',90')
Maldives: Shamweel Qasim(60')


A great performance by the poster boy of Indian Football, Sunil Chhetri saw India putting up a good display of attacking football against the last years runners up Maldives, registering a 3-1 victory. The script did not go according to Savio Medeira's in the start as Jeje failed to capitalize on a great chance when skipper, Climax Lawrence's shot was deflected in Jeje's path but the forward was unable to tap in an open goal and thus missing out on a great opportunity to take India to the drivers seat. India were more dominant on the attack as Sunil Chhetri also missed a good opportunity in the 22nd minute. India however got the lead a minute later as a freekick from the halfway line by Clifford Miranda saw Jeje missing a header but Syed Rahim Nabi was there to strike the ball home. By that time, Maldives were down to ten men as their talismanic forward and skipper Ashfaq Ali was recovering on the sidelines after getting a knock. India pushed hard for the second goal but somehow chances were missed. Maldives also created some good opportunities but were denied by some good defending.

The second half saw a more urgent display from Maldives as they pushed India deep into their half. Maldives received rewards for their attacking approach as they got the equalizer through a blistering shot from the edge of the box, by Shamveel Qasim. Definitely a goal to remember. Jeje Lalpekhlua was not at his very best as compared to his partner who was always causing a threat to Maldives defence. Sunil Chhetri earned India a golden opportunity to take the lead again when he got past the Maldives defence through his pace but before he could take a shot on goal, he was fouled inside the box and the referee rewarded a penalty to India. Sunil stepped up to take the penalty in the pressure situation and he finished with a calm head to give India the lead again, 2-1 to India after 70 minutes. Anthony Pereira had a very off game as he was replaced by the more experienced Churchill Brothers winger Steven Dias. In the 86th minute, Steven Dias could not convert a simple tap in when he was alone infront of goal when he was assisted by Chhetri from the left. As Maldives were putting more men forward, they were looking vulnerable in the defence. One such moment saw three Indian players against one Maldives defender, but Jewel Raja failed to take the chance as a mis-communication among  the three saw the score remain the same. India however took the two goal cushion and putting the game past any doubts when Jeje found Sunil Chhetri all alone against Maldives goalkeeper, Imran Mohammed and the in-form striker slotted it past the helpless goalkeeper to make the scoreline 3-1 and completing his brace.


India's standout performers today:

Syed Rahim Nabi, Exceptional
 performance yet again by the most versatile
 player of Indian football

Sunil Chhetri, 6 goals from 4 matches, Simply superb


India will next play Afghanistan in the finals of the 2011 SAFF Championship and thus will be adding the first silverware for the coach Savio Medeira.


In the Second Semi Finals:
Afghanistan 1-0 Nepal
Afghanistan: Balal Arezo(101')
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About Debraj Banerjee

Hi, I am Debraj Banerjee from Adra, West Bengal. A keen follower of Indian football and always an optimist that the game will get the recognition it truely deserves. What we ask from you is your support and one day the dream might turn true. Fingers crossed for Indian football. Cheers!

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