India edge past Bangla to move into title round

India edge past Bangla to move into title round

Captain Sushil Kumar scored the all-important goal in the 62nd minute with a faint touch off a free-kick by Robert Lalthama from just outside the box.

Under floodlights and in front of the capacity crowd at Bangabandhu National Stadium, the Indian under-23 boys dished out a vastly improved performance against the home side.
Maldives outplayed Sri Lanka 5-1 in the first semifinal earlier in the day. Sunday’s final will be a repeat of the last edition’s final in Colombo where India seniors, under Bob Houghton, lost to Maldives 0-1.

Friday’s win also avenged India’s defeat at the hands of Bangladesh in the 2003 edition semifinal here.

India, four-time winners, have now made it to the final of the SAFF championships seven times in eight tournaments. The 2003 edition was the only time India failed to make the summit clash.

Sukhwinder Singh’s boys were a transformed side after their lacklustre show in the group stages, even though they were without striker Balwant Singh, who got a red card in the earlier match, and midfielder Manish Maithani due to injury.

The Indians dominated throughout the match except for the first 15 minutes of the second session. The central midfield duo of Baldeep Singh and Jewel Raja did a wonderful job, regularly feeding the strikers.

The defence was a lot more organised. Defender Lalthama nearly scored twice from free kicks besides setting up the lone goal.