India shatter Pakistan’s hopes at SAFF Championship

ISLAMABAD: India defeated Pakistan 2-0 in the semi-final of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka on Wednesday. The defeat ended Pakistan’s fairy-tale run in the tournament, where the Men in Green – taking part at an international event after three years – exceeded everyone’s expectations. Even in defeat, the Pakistan players gave a good account of their game, holding a much more experienced Indian side to a goalless first half before all hell broke loose in the second. Their resistance ended in the 49th minute when India’s Ashique Kuruniyan delivered a low ball that was poked home by striker Manvir Singh. Singh got his second of the night in the 69th minute before Sumeet Passi added a third seven minutes from time. Things went from bad to worse for the national team when defender Mohsin Ali was sent off, reducing the side to 10 men. Despite the numerical disadvantage, Pakistan found a late consolation through Hassan Bashir – his third goal of the tournament – but by that time India had effectively sealed the win and booked their berth in the final opposite Maldives.

Published in Daily Times, September 13th 2018.

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