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Maldives crowned champions of South Asia

The 2-1 victory over India came a decade after the Red Snappers first lifted the SAFF title.



The Maldives beat India 2-1 in the final of the SAFF Suzuki Cup on Saturday night to be crowned champions of South Asia for the second time.

Deft finishes from Ibrahim Mahudhee Hussain and Ali Fasir in either half at the Bangabandhu Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh saw the Maldives overcome the favourites and seven-time champions.

The Red Snappers absorbed Indian pressure, scored the second on a swift counter-attack, and resolutely defended the lead despite losing captain Akram Abdul Ghanee to injury. Goalkeeper Mohamed Faisal, who won the tournament’s most valuable player award, kept out a barrage of crosses.

A consolation goal from Indian substitute Sumeet Passi in injury time was too late to change the outcome.

The victory came a decade after the Maldives first lifted the SAFF title. The Dhaka stadium was seen as an unlucky ground after the team lost finals there in 2003 and 2009.

The final whistle was greeted with scenes of jubilation across the country. Nationwide celebrations are due when the team returns with the trophy.

The seven-nation 2018 championship was the 12th edition of the biennial international championship organised by the regional federation.

The Maldives reached the final after thrashing Nepal 3-0 in the semi-final. The route to the semis was more fortuitous. After a goalless draw with Sri Lanka and a 2-0 loss to India in the group stage, the Maldives secured the runner-up position over the former with a coin toss.

Photos from the Football Association of Maldives