Thiruvananthapuram: Sunil Chhetri’s Indian football team have made the best-possible start to the new year. Guided by the skipper’s extra-time strike, The Blue Tigers have been crowned the SAFF Cup Champions for a seventh time. This after a 2-1 victory over Afghanistan in the Final in Thiruvananthapuram on Sunday.
The 90 minutes of regulation time ended with the scores tied at 1-1 after Afghanistan took the lead in the 70th minute courtesy a Zubayr Amiri strike. Young Jeje Lalpekhlua though ensured that wouldn’t be the only strike of the match as he got in an equaliser to take it to extra time.
The Indian skipper and 4-time AIFF Player of the Year then took things into his own hand and capitalised on a defensive lapse to deliver the ball into the Afghan net in the 11th minute of extra time. No more goals followed as India won the title for the seventh time.
The two teams had faced each other in the previous edition of the SAFF Cup final in 2013, but that time round Afghanistan had taken the trophy following a 2-0 scoreline.
In 2011, India had beaten Afghanistan 4-0.
On Thursday, India had beaten a spirited Maldives 3-2 to enter the final for a record 10th time with in-form Jeje Lalpekhlua striking twice after skipper Sunil Chhetri scored the opener.