India defeated Maldives 4-0 in the second semi-final of the 2019 SAFF (South Asian Football Federation) U-18 Championship at the APF Stadium in Kathmandu, Nepal, on Friday.
Narender Gahlot (7′) scored an early goal and Muhammed Rafi (45′) ensured that his side went into the break with a two-goal cushion before strikes by substitute Manvir Singh (79′) and Ninthoinganba Meetei (81′) sealed an emphatic win in the second half.
Aman Chetri started in place of Vikram Pratap Singh and Lalbiakhlua Jongte continued to slot in for Prabhsukhan Gill in between the sticks for India.
Gurkirat Singh’s header from Thoiba Singh’s cross from the right and Jeakson Singh’s effort from the resultant corner were saved before defender Narender helped Rafi’s throw-in into the net with a glancing header to break the deadlock.
Manvir Singh, who had replaced Aman Chetri, took advantage of a spill by the Maldives’ goalkeeper to extend India’s lead in the 79th minute through a Rana corner. Two minutes later, another corner by Rana resulted in a goal courtesy of Meetei’s perfect volley from outside the box.
In the title-deciding clash on Sunday, it will be a meeting of 2015 runners-up India and 2017 runners-up Bangladesh, after the latter defeated Bhutan 4-0 in the other semi-final.
Bhutan and Maldives will lock horns in the contest for the third-place on the same day.
India first XI: Lalbiakhlua Jongte (GK), Muhammed Rafi, Jitendra Singh (C), Narender Gahlot, Ninthoinganba Meetei Khumanthem, Aman Chetri (Vikram Pratap Singh), Givson Singh Moirangthem, Gurkirat Singh, Jeakson Singh Thanoujam, Ravi Bahadur Rana, Moirangthem Thoiba Singh
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