In a dramatic finish to their 2015-16 SAFF Suzuki Cup campaign, India survived a roller coaster of a match to subdue a determined Afghanistan team to come out on top in the extra times. Despite trailing by 1 goal at one point, Steven Constantine’s men in blue showed excellent composure and character under pressure to take the game into extra time. This Constantine’s first title win with the Indian Football Team and India’s first title win in 4 years.
The match started in electric style as Afghanistan created a number of early chances but failed to score. While Indian keeper Gurpreet had to make fine save on the 11th minute to deny the Afghans, India found the post on the 15th minute. Jeje Lalpekhlua’s header hit the post again on the 16th minute. The first half a saw a few more exciting attempts from both teams but it ended in a goalless status.
Second half started where the first ended as both teams again showed scoring intent from early on. Gurpreet denied Zazai with a great save on the 52nd minute and Jeje hit the crossbar again on the 56th minute. The deadlock was finally broken on the 70th minute as Zubayr Amiri scored to give Afghanistan the lead. India bounced back just 2 minutes later as Jeje Lalpekhlua finally managed to push one into the Afghan net.
Both teams tried hard to score the second goal in full time but the goalkeepers stood firm. Gurpreet denied Shayesteh on the 75th minute and Azizi stopped a Sunil Chhetri freekick on the 87th minute. Afghnaistan’s Alikhil had a final chance on the 93rd minute before the match went into extra time.
In the extra time both teams pushed for that elusive goal and it was finally the Indian captain Sunil Chhetri who managed to put his team ahead on the 101st minute capitalizing on a defensive error. The extra time was very competitive as India’s Arnab Mondal and Afghanistan’s Zubayr Amiri were injured and replaced.
Afghnaistan almost equalized on the 114th minute but the ball hit the post. Afghan coach Peter Segrt was sent off on the 115th minute by the referee. Indian defence held on for another 5 minutes to give Indian Football Team the first title in 4 years in front of 40,000 spectators at Trivandurm. Sunil Chhetri was awarded the Most Valuable Player of The Tournament.