India beats Pakistan to reach 11th SAFF final


LAHORE: Arch-Rivals India and Pakistan clashed against each other after a gap of half a decade in the SAFF Championships semifinal in Dhaka on Wednesday. Defending champions India emerged the better of the two teams as they defeated Pakistan, who returned to International football after three troubled years, 3-1.

Pakistan players performed well against a far higher-ranked Indian side to a goalless first half.

however, their resistance ended in the 49th minute when India’s Ashique Kuruniyan delivered a low ball that was poked home by striker Manvir Singh.

Singh got his second of the night in the 69th minute before Sumeet Passi added a third seven minutes from time.

Mohsin Ali and Lallianzuala Chhangte were both sent off in the 86th minute before Pakistan found a late consolation.

Manvir Singh scored twice while Sumeet Passi scored the third to book Stephen Constantine’s spot in the final.

This was Pakistan’s first appearance in the semi-final after 13 years where they will take on India, the only unbeaten side in the competition so far.

Pakistan began their campaign in the championship with a 2-1 win over Nepal in Group A. However, they lost their second group game, 1-0 to hosts Bangladesh before ending their group stage with a 3-0 win over Bhutan.

On the other hand, India started their tournament with a 2-0 win against Sri Lanka and then defeated Bhutan 2-0 before progressing to the semi-final.

The last time the two sides met was during the 2013 SAFF Championship where India beat Pakistan 1-0.

Earlier on Wednesday, Pakistani cricketers had extended well wishes to the national football team.

Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed said the nation’s prayers were with the football team. “InshaAllah the team will perform well today.”

“I want to extend my best wishes for the football team in their match against India. InshAllah they will win the match and qualify for the final,” said Faheem Ashraf.

“Pakistan football team wish you all the best for the semi-final against India. May Allah make you successful like you have been throughout the tournament,” said Shahdab Khan.

Test cricketer Azhar Ali also extended his best wishes for the team.

“I wish them [Pakistan football team] the best of luck. I’m sure the Pakistan team will do just fine. Win or lose we still stand with you,” said Shoaib Akhtar.