SAFF Cup final, as it happened: Chhetri the match-winner as India reclaim title from Afghans

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SAFF Cup final, as it happened: Chhetri the match-winner as India reclaim title from Afghans
  • 21:42 (IST)

    A great start to 2016 for Indian Football. But the real challenges lie ahead. Miles to go before Indian football can achieve greatness. On that note, we sign off from the live blog. It was an absloute pleasure bringing the SAFF Cup action live. Hope you enjoyed Firstpost's coverage over the last eight days. 

    Adios, football fans!

  • 21:41 (IST)

    There it is! Sunil Chhetri hoists the SAFF trophy (amid some organisational hilarity) Gurpreet carries the trophy around and Stephen Constatntine lifts it up along with the team! 

  • 21:40 (IST)

    There it is! Sunil Chhetri hoists the SAFF trophy (amid some organisational hilarity) Gurpreet carries the trophy around and Stephen Constatntine lifts it up along with the team! 

  • 21:39 (IST)

  • 21:36 (IST)

    Afghanistan players, visibly distraught, collect their runner up medals. Now its the turn of Indian players to pick up their winners medals.

  • 21:29 (IST)

    The most valuable player of SAFF Suzuki cup is Sunil Chhetri!

  • 21:24 (IST)

    On behalf of all Indian football fans, hope it doesn't stop there.

  • 21:23 (IST)

    Presentation ceremony underway in Trivandrum.

  • 21:22 (IST)

  • 21:19 (IST)

  • 21:19 (IST)

  • 21:17 (IST)

    Full-time analysis: It was a scrappy match for the most part but there was absoultely no dearth of goal-mouth action. Both sides created truckload of chances, but Afghan took the lead with a clinical goal late in regulation time. But Jeje hit right back to take the match into extra-time. With Afghan looking increasingly likely to win it late, up stepped Indian captain Sunil Chhetri to score what proved to be the match-winner. Chhetri and Gurpreet in goal were absolutely tremendous for India. For Afghanistan, the coach was sent off late on for protesting over penalty appeals. To be fair, there were a close couple of calls at the end. 

    In the end, India hang on and probably deservedly so. The SAFF Cup is back with India.

  • 21:14 (IST)

  • 21:11 (IST)

    The crowd must be absolutely thrilled. Well done, Trivandrum!

  • 21:09 (IST)

    And there's the final whistle! India are SAFF Cup champions! Sunil Chhetri's goal the difference as India reclaim the trophy from defending champions. What a match! What a night!

  • 21:06 (IST)

  • 21:06 (IST)

    More Afghan pressure. A good cross from the right and Gurpreet is there YET AGAIN to gather it cleanly and wins a free kick too. What a performance from him tonight! 

  • 21:05 (IST)

    Oh, dear! Afghanistan players are losing the plot here. Jairu with a push on Abibi inside the box and the referee says nothing doing. This one looked more a penalty than the previous instance. The player is livid at the ref and gets a yellow card.

  • 21:04 (IST)

    Three minutes added on in Trivandrum. Chhetri with a first time shot from a long ball. But it was wide. 

  • 21:02 (IST)

    Arnab Mondal has been stretchered off  in the dying minutes here. Khongjee comes on. This could be huge in the last few mins! Mondal was a rock at the back. 

  • 21:01 (IST)

  • 21:00 (IST)

    MISS! What an almighty scrap in India's penalty area. Hand ball appeal, missed clearances, post hit but India hang on. The ball hit Mondal's arm, yes but he was lying on the ground with arm close to his body. 50-50 call, to be fair. Oh, more drama as the Afghan coach has been sent off by the referee! He's in the stands with the fans now.

  • 20:57 (IST)

  • 20:56 (IST)

    Oh, what a passage of play for India! Jeje does really well in keeping the ball at the corner flag, a rebound is latched on to by a flying Das from left back whose cut back is parried on to Jeje's feet. His shot hits the defender and Narzary tries to chip it over the keeper and it goes just over. 

    India 2-1 Afghanistan after 112 mins

  • 20:53 (IST)

    Interesting defending by Arnab Mondal there who gets a foot on a long drive from an Afghan midfielder and it loops into the hands of Gurpreet. India hanging on admirably so far. 19 mins of 30 in ET done. India 2-1 up

  • 20:49 (IST)

    Zubair Amiri, the goalscorer limps off the field, as Afghanistan make their final substitution. Second half of ET underway!

  • 20:47 (IST)

    And it's half-time in extra-time. Can India hang on to their slender advantage? Or will Afghan make another comeback?

  • 20:45 (IST)

    Almost the end of first half of extra time. India have had a couple of  chances since Chhetri put them ahead. Jairu fired high and wide from an excellent position. India lead 2-1 in Trivandrum.

  • 20:43 (IST)

  • 20:42 (IST)

    THERE IT IS! HUGE GOAL INDIA! And it's the captain Sunil Chhetri. A scrappy goal as he latches on a poor header from the Afghan defender from a long ball, but great fight from the captain to get a shot away past the keeper as it trickles into the net. What a huge moment!

  • 20:41 (IST)

    A close hand-ball call against Halder is not given and the resulting corner results in a scrap in the box but Mondal gets the clearance away. Very scrappy extra time so far, but Afghans clearly the better side late on here. 

    After 100 mins it's 1-1

  • 20:41 (IST)

    A close hand-ball call against Halder is not given and the resulting corner results in a scrap in the box but Mondal gets the clearance away. Very scrappy extra time so far, but Afghans clearly the better side late on here. 

    After 100 mins it's 1-1

  • 20:41 (IST)

    A close hand-ball call against Halder is not given and the resulting corner results in a scrap in the box but Mondal gets the clearance away. Very scrappy extra time so far, but Afghans clearly the better side late on here. 

    After 100 mins it's 1-1

  • 20:37 (IST)

    India finally make a substitution after 96 mins. Halder comes on for Lyngdoh. Will we see Zuala tonight? 

  • 20:34 (IST)

    Admittedly harsh yellow for Lyngdoh but the tackle was from behind. Free kick is hit straight at the Indian wall. Still 1-1 after 95 mins.

  • 20:31 (IST)

    Not a bad option to bring on from the bench.

  • 20:30 (IST)

    Extra time underway. Afghanistan make their 2nd chance. India, rather surprsingly, yet to make even one.

  • 20:29 (IST)

  • 20:29 (IST)

  • 20:25 (IST)

    That's the end of a breathless second half! It's 90 minutes and we still don't have a winner. Extra time in Trivandrum. Who doesn't love more football on a Sunday night.

  • 20:24 (IST)

    A chance for Afghan at the end as a weak clearance from Mondal falls to Afghan forward who's shot is just wide.

  • 20:22 (IST)

    India, who are yet to make a substitution if I am right, are mounting the pressure on Afghan goal. Narzary with a very poor cross from a promising position. Then Rowlin slips Jairu through the left flank who finally manages to put in a good cross across the goal but Afghan defence clear it.

    Into injury time here. It's 1-1

  • 20:20 (IST)

    OH! Chhetri almost gives India the lead! A well-hit free kick from just outside the box in a central position was heading into the top corner, but the 'keeper Azizi flies across and tips it behind for a corner. Inches away from winning it for India.

  • 20:18 (IST)

    Ooh, Narayan Das almost embarasses the Afghan goalkeeper there. A chipped cross (which was meant for a player in the box) is too close to the goalkeeper and was dipping inside the far post but the keeper palms it away. Almost the lead for India there! 

  • 20:15 (IST)

    Good chance for Afghanistan! A low drive from captain Shayetsheh beats Gurpreet but flies just wide. 

  • 20:12 (IST)

    He did the same against Maldives for the opener in the semifinals. Excellent technique indeed.

  • 20:11 (IST)

    Bit of a break in play as an Afghan player is down injured. Breather for players, fans and live commentators after a mad period of play. After 79 mins, it's 1-1 in Trivandrum. Extra time, anyone?

  • 20:10 (IST)

    And amid all that goal-scoring madness, Gurpreet made another flying save after he was found stranded by his own mistake. He's kept India in this match. 

  • 20:08 (IST)

    Can't be far away from how the crowd reacted to that goal.

  • 20:07 (IST)

Match Preview

Thiruvananthapuram: Hosts India are expected to face a tough task when they lock horns with a rampaging Afghanistan in a high-voltage SAFF Championship final at the Trivandrum International Stadium here on Sunday.


Both teams have been unbeaten in the tournament. While Afghanistan have quite convincingly won all of their four matches, the Indians too have delivered when required and gathered three wins from three outings.

Afghanistan are clear favourites in the final of the SAFF Championships. Image: SAFF Cup Twitter

Afghanistan are clear favourites in the final of the SAFF Championships. Image: SAFF Cup Twitter

The visitors have been on a scoring spree in the tournament which includes a 5-0 hammering of Sri Lanka in the semi-finals. They had a goal difference of +10 in the group stages. India on the other hand edged past Maldives 3-2 in the other semi-final.

The last time the two sides had met in the final of the SAFF Championship in 2013, it was Afghanistan who had emerged victorious (2-0). But Stephen Constantine and his men will be confident of turning the tables this time around.

With striker Robin Singh out with an injury, Constantine would hope that star forward Sunil Chhetri will be able to get the goals. He did it against Maldives, but then again, breaking the Afghanistan defence would be a lot tougher.

Besides Chhetri, the coach would look upto players like Holicharan Narzary and Jeje Lalpekhlua to score for the hosts. We might just also get to see a magical moment from the wonderkid Lallianzuala Chhangte. The 18-year-old netted twice against Nepal and became the youngest Indian scorer, moving past the iconic Baichung Bhutia, who did it as a 19-year-old in 1995.

Another driving factor for the hosts will be the home crowd. The stadium has seen decent turnouts throughout the tournament and the attendance is expected to double for the final.


However, to lift the trophy for the fourth time, the Indian defence will have to play out of their skins. Containing the likes of Masih Saighani, Ahmad Hatifie, and Hassan Amin will be no easy task.

Then there are players like Khaibar Amani and Faysal Shayeseth, who have grabbed four goals each so far in the tourney.

The head to head record speaks in favour of India. Out of the six matches played so far between the two nations, India have won four, drawn one and lost one.

The hosts would ideally want to have a sweet revenge for their 0-2 loss in Nepal two years ago, but stopping such a powerhouse, who have been scoring goals for fun would prove to be a tough challenge.


Published Date: Jan 03, 2016 09:38 pm | Updated Date: Jan 03, 2016 09:42 pm


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