Maldives pulled through to semi-finals in the ongoing under-18 SAFF Championship after securing a 0-0 draw against Bhutan on Tuesday.
Maldives had competed in the tournament in 2015 and 2017 but lost every match. This time, Maldives went to semi-finals by drawing in the two matches played during the group stage. Defending champions Bhutan was the top of the group while Maldives was second.
With this draw, the under 18 team reached the Pro-licenced Coach Mohamed Shaazly (Shaaz)'s target of reaching the semi-finals. As part of the Maldives' under-age 18 team's training regimen, they participated in a training camp in Qatar, held three-months' practice in capital Male' and played matches against various first division teams.
Both teams showcased good performances in the match. Ahusam Moosa from the Maldivian team was injured during the first half of the match and was replaced.
Although skipper Hassan Nazeem and Ahmed Husaam attempted an attacking game, Bhutan's strong defences prevented any chance to score. In turn, Maldivian goalkeeper Hassan Aleef blocked the shots taken by Bhutan's team.
Bhutan, previously known as the weakest team in South Asia, lately made several attempts to increase the age category teams, thus improving their results significantly.
The semi-final matches will be held coming Friday.