SAFF Cup: India edge Nepal to keep hopes alive
A late strike by Sunil Chhetri handed India the 1-0 win over Nepal in the SAFF Championship 2021 Group Stage, at the National Football Stadium in Male, Maldives, on Sunday, October 10, 2021.
With this win, India are now in the third spot on the Group table with five points, just one behind Maldives and Nepal, both of whom have acquired six points each.
India started off on the front foot, winning their first corner of the match as early as in the third minute. The Nepali defence was up to the task though, as they cleared the ball that was swung in by Brandon Fernandes.
India had their best chance of the first half in the 34th minute, when Suresh was fed through inside the box by Pritam Kotal. The midfielder flashed a low cross across goal to Chhetri, who was waiting unmarked at the far post. However, a slight touch by Limbu scuppered the chance, as the India captain’s eventual shot went agonisingly wide.
With eight minutes of regulation time left on the clock, it was none other than captain Sunil Chhetri, who broke the deadlock. Substitute Farukh Choudhary headed an aerial through ball by Brandon onto Chhetri’s path, as the India captain volleyed it home with his left foot.
India having scored a late first goal, Nepal mounted on the attacks, looking for the equaliser. Anjan Bista managed to penetrate the box and got his shot away with a few minutes of regulation time to go, but it failed to trouble India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu.
The Blue Tigers will play their final Group Stage game against hosts Maldives on Wednesday, October 13, 2021, at the same venue. The match kicks off at 9.30 PM IST.