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Maldives concedes loss to China in World Cup qualifier

Raif Amyl Jalyl
11 September 2019, MVT 22:30
Local football legend Ali Ashfaq attempting to thwart the Chinese defence in the World Cup Qualifying match between Maldives and China on September 10. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/MIHAARU
Raif Amyl Jalyl
11 September 2019, MVT 22:30

Maldives national football team succumbed 0- 5 to China over the World Cup qualifier played at Galolhu Stadium, in capital city Male' on Tuesday.

Captained by Akram Abdul Ghani, the starting 11 members of the national team comprised of the same squad that kicked off the game in a recent triumph 1- 0 over Guam with two notable exceptions; the addition of local football legend Ali Ashfaq (Dhagandey) and Hussain Nihan.

Captain Ghani received an automatic red card after being penalized for fouls with two yellow cards, resulting in him being sent off the pitch and the national team having to complete the game with ten players.

Ashfaq was also substituted off the pitch for the second half of the game.

Of the five goals scored by China, two were struck by Brazil-born Elkeson de Oliveira Cardoso, who made his debut in the game. His presence on the pitch marks the first instance of a non-Chinese born player being granted the opportunity to play for the Chinese national team.

The starting 11 players of Maldives national football team. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/MIHAARU

Coached by Marcello Lippi who led Italy to win the FIFA World Cup in 2006, the Chinese kickoff team was comprised completely of young players.

China scored the first goal at 33 minutes into the game with mid-fielder Wu-Xi scoring into the far corner of the net from a long ball pass.

The first half closed with China leading 2- 0, after Wu Lee took advantage of oversights made by Maldives team at the center of the pitch and struck the ball into the net at the 43rd minute. This was met with the Maldivian players attempting to dispute the goal by appealing to the referee that he was off-side.

The second half of the game commenced with Ashfaq being substituted for Hassan Naiz.

With the substitution, Maldives quickened their attacking pace and were able to apply pressure on the Chinese defence. Strikers Naiz and Ibrahim Mahudhee were notable in creating attacking chances for Maldives to score.

Maldives was particularly close to scoring their first goal in the game when Ghani took a free-kick at the 55th minute, with the ball hitting the top post of the Chinese goal and rebounding before being struck by Naiz at the goal which was foiled by the Chinese keeper narrowly swatting it outside for a corner.

However, China was awarded a penalty at the 63rd minute, resulting in their third goal.

The Maldivian team exhibited signs of fatigue towards the last 20 minutes of the game. Similar fitness issues were exhibited by many players in the second half of the match with Guam as well.

Chinese defence attempting to intercept Ibrahim Mahudhee. PHOTO: HUSSAIN WAHEED/MIHAARU

Elkeson scored his first goal in the match against Maldives from a second penalty awarded to China at the 83rd minute after Maldivian Captain Ghani committed a foul in the penalty box resulting in his automatic red card and send-off from the pitch.

The red card also suspends Ghani from playing in the national team's match against Syria scheduled for October 10.

Handicapped to ten players, Maldives conceded a fifth goal during the stoppage time of the closing second half, when Elkeson struck again, scoring his second goal in the match. Elkeson proved unstoppable to the Maldivian defence.

There were 3700 spectators in attendance at Galolhu stadium. While Maldives had the home advantage, Chinese supporters flocked in droves to watch the match.

This marks the fifth time that the Chinese team has triumphed over Maldives.

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