Even if India doesn't reclaim the SAFF crown, they can take positives from this outing.
Rowlin was picked, among a number of other young players, by Constantine for the SAFF Championships and he instantly repaid the coach's trust in him
It was a New Year's eve of nerves at the Trivandrum International stadium on as India fought off a resilient Maldives to win 3-2, courtesy a brace from Jeje Lalpekhlua.
Live updates from the India vs Maldives semi-final match in SAFF Cup
Afghanistan have outgrown SAFF, they are too big a fish for this small pond now. But they have every intention to leave on a high. It won't surprise many if they manage to defend their SAFF crown on 3 January.
India will now face Maldives in the first semi-final on 31 December after the 2008 SAFF champions lost 4-1 to Afghanistan in the final group B game
Kotal is one of those 22 football players who have been handed their first cap for the senior team by Constantine this year. And he took the opportunity with both hands and forged his place in the squad.
Delhi lad Robin failed to recover from the knee injury he suffered during India's 2-0 win over Sri Lanka in their opening match on December 25.
India will now face group B runner-up Maldives in the first semi-final on 31 December, while group toppers Afghanistan set up a clash with Sri Lanka in the second semi-final later on the same day.
SAFF Cup: 18-year-old Chhangte has potential to take over from Chhetri as India's next football star
Zuala's fairy tale brace made all the headlines on the night and made him an overnight sensation. But apart from a young talent, what we saw on the occasion was the future.
Chhangte, in the process of scoring a brace, became the youngest ever goalscorer for India, beating the record held by Baichung Bhutia.
Live updates from India's match against Nepal in the SAFF Championships
Mondal is enjoying his defensive pairing with Augustin Fernandes in the SAFF Cup.
High on confidence after their facile 2-0 win over Sri Lanka in their campaign opener, six-time champions India take on Nepal in a tricky group match of the South Asian Football Federation Cup here tomorrow.
SAFF Cup: Sure the men in blue won, but India need to add more guns to their arsenal to go all the way
India, frankly, will not get as many chances against Maldives or Afghanistan as they did last night. The hosts must look to be much more clinical in front of the goal.
The Bengaluru FC and Delhi Dyanmos forward Robin Singh scored twice in the second half before being substituted due to a nasty looking leg injury.
Live updates from India's opening match in SAFF Cup as they take on Sri Lanka
SAFF Cup: Constantine on Sri Lanka Test, how ISL affected his stars, India's ridiculous FIFA ranking
India coach Stephen Constantine lamented the state Indian football was in and said Indian players "lacked basics" of the game ahead of the team's opening SAFF Cup Christmas clash against Sri Lanka, who sit atop the Group A table.
SAFF Cup first impressions: Defending champs Afghanistan are the team to beat; Maldives not too far behind
Afghanistan mean business and they are here to be champions again.
India will seek a fresh beginning as they open their campaign by taking on the challenge of Sri Lanka in the SAFF Cup match on Friday