Maldives defeated Bhutan 3-1 while defending Champions Afghanistan showed their dominance with a 4-0 win against Bangladesh on the 2nd day of the SAFF Suzuki Cup 2015.
Maldives stroll past Bhutan
Ali Ashfaq was at his inspirational best on Thursday as he guided Maldives to a 3-1 win over Bhutan in their opening Group B game of the 2015 SAFF Suzuki Cup.
It took the Maldives just eight minutes to break the deadlock at the Trivandrum International Stadium when Ahmed Imaz made no mistake in finding the back of the net, after being picked out by captain Ashfaq’s glorious over-the-top pass.
But against the run of play, Bhutan equalised in the 19th minute as Tshering Dorji reacted quickest to pounce on a loose ball after Chencho Gyeltshen’s initial effort had been blocked, and proceeded to curl a low shot home.
The Maldivians were able to respond a minute after the half-hour mark after Asadhulla Abdulla struck from a corner to ensure his side went in at the break leading on the scoreboard.
And in the 66th minute, Ashfaq – Maldives’ all-time top scorer – made sure of the win when he picked up possession outside the area before scoring with an unstoppable strike to make it 3-1.
With the three points, Maldives, who are looking to repeat their title success of 2008, are in an excellent position to advance to the semi-finals for the eighth successive edition of the SAFF Championship.
Defending Champs show their class
The highest ranked team in the South Asian region put in a fine display against an out of form Bangladesh side to come away with a 4-0 victory.
Afghanistan dominated the game from the first minute until the final whistle.
The defending champions did not have to wait for long to break the deadlock as centre back Saighani rose the highest to score from a corner in the 29th minute.
The opening goal was just what Afghanistan needed and it was only a matter of time before they extended their lead.
Three minutes later captain Faysal latched onto a ball from midfield before chipping the ball over the onrushing keeper and the defenders.
Afghanistan’s plan seemed to be to keep on attacking Bangladesh’s box and push them back into their own area and it worked.
Bangladesh found it difficult to create clear cut chances and the third goal arrived with five minutes to go for the half time whistle.
Things did not go as well as planned as substitute for Afghanistan Khaibar Amani pounced onto the ball and made no mistake in his second attempt to give the Lions of Khorasan an unassailable 4-0 lead.
Bangladesh’s fate looked like it had been decided even before the final minutes of the game as the defending champions saw the game off to kick off their SAFF Suzuki Cup 2015 campaign with an impressive 4-0 victory.