Seven-time champions India set up a semifinal clash of the SAFF Suzuki Cup against Pakistan following their 2-0 victory over Maldives in the final Group B fixture at the Bangabandhu National Stadium yesterday.
Despite the defeat, Maldives advanced to the last four, thanks to a coin toss which put them ahead of Sri Lanka after both sides had finished without any points and with the same goal difference. The former champions will play against Group A champions Nepal in the other semifinal. Both the semifinals will take place on Wednesday.
Having confirmed the semifinal berth with a 2-0 win over Sri Lanka, India came into the match by resting five players from their previous game. Yet Stephen Constantine's charges proved too good for Maldives.
India, comprised of under-23 players, had the upper hand against the Islanders, who could not improve their performance following a goalless draw against Sri Lanka in their previous match.
Maldives came close to conceding the lead in the eighth minute when Mohamed Arif directed the ball towards his own net, only to be spared by the woodwork. Maldives, however, could not stop India striker Nikhil Chandra Shekhar, who played a one-two with Farukh Chowdhury before entering the box and placing it to the left-hand side of Maldives goalkeeper Mohamed Faisal in the 36th minute.
Substitute Manvir Singh doubled the lead eight minutes later after availing a through-pass from Lallianzuala Chhangte before Ibrahim Husain's placing shot at the Indian near post went inches wide in stoppage time.
After resumption, both sides created a few chances but neither managed to capitalise, leaving the fate of Maldives hanging on toss of the coin.