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Nine years later, Maldives returns to centre stage

13 September 2018, MVT 13:18
Maldivian team celebrating after scoring against Nepal. PHOTO: IMAGES.MV
13 September 2018, MVT 13:18

Victorious over Nepal with 3 goals to nil, the young Maldivian squad secures their spot in the final of the SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018.

This marks the fifth time the country made their way to the finals of the biennial international men's football championship.

The last time Maldives reached the finals of a SAFF championship was in 2009, only to lose to regional rival India in a penalty shootout.

Over the last couple of years, Maldives has suffered two consecutive losses at the hands of India during the SAFF cup semi-finals.

The goal struck by Akram Abdul Ghanee (Aku) just nine minutes into the first-half cemented Maldives's success early in the game. The match was interrupted for a brief hiatus due to bad weather.

The match resumed with Nepal working against Maldives using a plethora of dangerous attacks. However, thanks to Ibrahim Waheed Hussain (Ibbe)’s two last-minute goals, Maldives secured their place in the finals, lifting the hearts of Maldivians across the island nation.

The match held in Banghabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh, saw forward attacking plays from the Maldivian squad. The sweeper-keeper Mohamed Faisal's skills were displayed when he calmly defended the first attack on Maldives struck outside the box by the Nepalese captain, Bharat Khawas.

With both teams producing over 10 shots on goal, the heated semi-final drew to close when a cross that was taken by substitute player Asadhulla Abdulla hurtled towards Ibbe, who placed the ball in the top corner with impressive ease.

Two minutes later, Asadhulla assisted Ibbe again, to score the third and final goal of the match.

Maldives will face India in the final of this year's SAFF Championship to be held on September 15, 18:00 PM.

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