India’s 3-1 win “bad luck for us”, says Maldives coach

India has defeated the Maldives 3-1 in the semifinals of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) championship, securing its place at the finals of the ongoing Championship Tournament.

The Maldives equalised an early goal from the India side, with Shamweel Qasim scoring in the 60th minute.

However India regained the lead after the Maldives brought down India’s Sunil Chhetri in the penalty area, losing the penalty and allowing India to pull ahead in the 70th minute.

Chhetri scored India’s third goal during injury time, cementing a victory for India that will see it playing Afghanistan in the final, following the latter’s 1-0 victory over Nepal.

Maldives’ coach Istvan Urbanyi said India was “lucky to have won the match.”

“The Indian coach said that the team which made less mistakes will win the tournament. But I said luck is very important. It was 1-1 deadlock and then India got the penalty and we had enough chances to restore parity again but we could not. So it was bad luck for us,” Urbanyi said, following India’s win.

“I had said the team which has extra quality players will win the tournament and my side has more quality players. But bad luck for us.”


Maldives qualifies for semi-finals with 3-1 SAFF win over Bangladesh

The Maldives knocked out top-ranked Bangladesh 3-1 in the SAFF Cup tournament last night, qualifying for the semi-finals alongside Nepal.

The Maldives’ Ahmed Thariq quickly scored in the sixth minute of the match, scoring again in the 17th. Ali Ashfaq scored the country’s third goal in the 70th minute. Bangladesh’s Sahedul Shahed scored in the 29th minute.

Bangladesh retained greater possession but the speedy and precise Maldivians gave them few opportunities to score in Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

Bangladesh has beaten the Maldives in three previous SAAF match ups, and has lost only once to the small island nation since 1984. The last time Bangladesh defeated the Maldives was during the 2009 final.

After last night’s win, young people on motorbikes circled Male’ hooting and cheering. The result means the Maldives and Nepal now top Group B with five points apiece. Heading into the semifinals, India and Afghanistan lead Group A with four points each.

The Maldives drew the tournament’s two opening matches before finding their feet in last night’s match.

“It was a very difficult win. Bangladesh was a very good side. We had a plan and it worked. They brought a lot of changes and we improved,” said Maldives coach Istvan Urbanyi.

“If we come to a tournament with high expectation, we need to deal with it. We need to score goals and then the confidence comes. It wasn’t a case of poor form, but of confidence. During this game, we had some difficult periods. It’s not easy to win.”

“In Maldives, you have a lot of skillful players. All we need is better facilities. Maybe our players need some experience, go abroad to get the feel to be a professional football player. The other thing is that everybody likes football.”

A home team match-up against India would be difficult, he conceded.

“Every team has a chance to reach the semi-finals. In the last game even, if Pakistan beat Nepal, they had the chance to qualify and Nepal will be out. Sri Lanka has a good team and a good spirit. I was with the Under-23 team in Dhaka and Afghanistan reached the finals. So I’m not surprised with their performance here.”


Under 23’s begin preparation for SAFF games

The Maldivian under 23 football squad has started training for the upcoming SAFF games in Bangladesh.

The team is currently being looked after by the assistant coach for the Maldivian national team. He is in charge until head coach István Urbányi returns from a short trip back to Hungary.

According to the rules, only players born after the 1st January 1987 are allowed to participate. However, three senior members are allowed in the team – these three have yet to be announced.