The Indian national team has won the SAFF Championship 2011 against Afghanistan in a well-contested final at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.
India broke the deadlock in the 71st minute through Sunil Chhetri and recorded a 4-0 win at the end of the match.
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SAFF Championship 2011 – Final
at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi
INDIA 4-0 AFGHANISTAN
1-0 Sunil Chhetri (71′, pen)
2-0 Clifford Miranda (79′)
3-0 Jeje Lalpekhlua (80′)
4-0 Sushil Kumar Singh (90’+5′)
1-Karanjit Singh; 22-Syed Rahim Nabi, 14-Mahesh Gawli, 19-Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh, 4-Nirmal Chettri; 15-Clifford Rayes Miranda (90’+3′ 20-Lalrindika Ralte), 8-Climax Lawrence [C], 21-Rocus Lamare, 12-Anthony Pereira (74′ 23-Steven Benedic Dias); 10-Jeje Lalpekhlua, 11-Sunil Chhetri (84′ 18-Sushil Kumar Singh)
1-Hameedullag Yousufzai [C]; 2-Moqadar Faizullah, 3-Haroon Fakhrudin, 4-Faisal Safa, 7-Mohammad Esrafi, 8-Mohammad Yusef Mashriqi, 9-Balal Arezou, 10-Sanjar Ahmadi (76′ 6-Massod Hashmi), 13-Ghulam Hazrat Abdul Hoddein (68′ 22-Bashir Ahmed Darman), 16-Djelaludin Sharityar, 17-Ata Mohammad Yamrali
Sukhbir Singh (Singapore)
64′ Hameedullag Yousufzai (Afghanistan)
MAN OF THE MATCH
Sunil Chhetri (India)
The SAFF Championship 2011 final kicked-off with an on-fire Afghan team against hosts India in front of a fanatic crowd at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Delhi.
Afghan striker Balal Arezou had the first scoring opportunity of the match in the 2nd minute. Arezou finished off a good run down the right centre-half with a powerful shot on target. But India keeper Karanjit Singh had no difficulties to save the shot and denied Afghanistan an early lead.
The Indian team needed around ten minutes before they slowly started to find their way into the match.
India registered their first chance of the match in the 16th minute, when Haroon Fakhrudin brought down Jeje Lalpekhlua in a dangerous position. Anthony Pereira took the resulting freekick, but his shot went over the crossbar.
Afghanistan proved to be the tough opponent they promised to be and they almost took the lead in the 24th minute. New York Red Bulls player Mohammad Yusef Mashriqi delivered a well-timed through ball to Balal Arezou and the quick striker left India defenders Mahesh Gawli and Gouramangi Moirangthem Singh behind him. Arezou looked certain to score, but Karanjit kept the Indian team in the game with a superb save.
The all-red Afghanistan team dominated the first half and India were kept away from the Afghan box for most of the time.
Anthony Pereira managed to deliver a cross into the Afghan danger area in the 30th minute, but India star striker Sunil Chhetri failed to control the ball and he was quickly dispossessed by Haroon Fakhrudin.
India coach Savio Medeira didn’t look like a happy man, when both teams left the pitch at the end of the first session. Savio knew that his team would need to pull up their socks in the second half and that the match could be decided by just one mistake.
And it seemed like Savio found the right words in the locker room. India took the initiative and young striker Jeje Lalpekhlua tested Afghan keeper Hameedullag Yousufzai with a great shot on target in the 46th minute. But Yousufzai saved Jeje’s attempt and the score remained 0-0.
India increased the pace and Jeje had another chance to give the defending champions the lead just four minutes after his first chance. But Jeje’s header off a Anthony Pereira cross went well wide.
The Indian midfield looked composed in the second half and they managed to dispossess Afghanistan again and again.
The match got a decisive turn around, when Jeje Lalpekhlua was brought in the Afghan box by a defender. India was correctly awarded a penalty and Afghan keeper Hameedullag Yousufzai was sent off for abusive behaviour against referee Sukhbir Singh from Singapore.
The red card caused a turmoil amongst the Afghan players and officials and it took several minutes, before the match continued.
Sunil Chhetri took the penalty and scored, but he had to repeat the shot once again. The Indian star striker kept calm and cool and gave India the lead with his second penalty kick in the 71st minute.
Sunil entered the history books of the SAFF Championship with his seventh goal of the competition. The Delhi boy has overtaken former India star striker I.M. Vijayan in the the all-time list of the most goals scored in a single SAFF Championship. Vijayan, popularly nicknamed “The Black Pearl” of Indian football, scored six goals in the 1997 edition of the tournament.
Clifford Miranda increased India’s lead with a great run down the right flank, entering the box, going past his defender and putting it past the Afghan keeper in the 79th minute.
And India kept the momentum and sealed the victory just one minute later, when Jeje Lalpekhlua received a ball from the left side and slotted it home to make it 3-0 for India.
Sunil Chhetri picked up an ankle injury, while putting up Jeje’s goal and he had to be replaced by Sushil Kumar Singh.
Substitute Sushil Kumar Singh made it a perfect day for Team India and added a fifth goal to his team’s tally in the 95th minute.
India has won the SAFF Championship for a record-breaking 6th time and Indian football fans will be celebrating this day special day.