Sunil Chhetri’s sharp header and Jeje Lalpekhlua’s decent finishes helped India to win SAFF cup final against Afghanistan on Thursday for the record seventh time.
Out of the 11 SAFF cup finals India were playing 10th time in final. The home side under Stephen Constantine could have won by a bigger margin had the woodwork not denied them twice in the match. India moved up three places to the 163rd spot
in the FIFA football rankings, released on Thursday, after its
SAFF Cup triumph.
Jeje Lalpekhlua (72nd minute) and Sunil Chhettri (101th)
scored for India after Zubayr Amiri had given Afghanistan
the lead in the 69th minute at the Greenfield Stadium
here. The victory for India over higher ranked
Afghanistan (150th) gave Constantine his first win of
an international tournament after taking charge early last
year for his second stint at the helm of affairs in India.
India went unbeaten in the regional tournament, beating Sri
Lanka 2-0, Nepal 4-1 in the group stages before overcoming
the Maldives 3-2 in the semi-finals.
For Afghanistan, who have come in the tournament with 15
foreign-based players in their squad of 20, it was a sort of
disappointment as they had targeted a title win in their final
SAFF Cup participation.
SAFF Cup title triumph would also ease pressure on the
English coach under whom India lost five and won just one
match in the 2018 World Cup qualifiers while going into the
Indian skipper(Cricket) Virat Kohli has congratulated the Indian
football team for lifting the SAFF Cup for the seventh time.