Chhetri helps India clinch 7th SAFF title
India defeated Afghanistan 2-1 in the 2015 final of the SAFF Cup in Thiruvananthapuram. Sunil Chhetri and Jeje Lalpekhlua scored for India, with Chhetri scoring the winning goal in a free kick in the 10th minute of extra time. Zubayr Amiri scored the first and only goal of the match for Afghanistan in the 71st minute. This is India's 7th SAFF cup victory.
SAFF Championship, also called the South Asian Football Federation Cup, is the main association football competition of the men's national football teams governed by the South Asian Football Federation. It began as the South Asian Association of Regional Co-operation Gold Cup in 1993. Held every two years, the tournament is played by 8 countries -Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The format of the SAFF Cup is very straightforward, with two groups of 4 teams each. The teams play each other only once in their respective groups; each team plays three matches in the group stage. The top two from each group will advance to the semi-finals, whose winners will go on to play the finals to decide the winner.
Having won the title 6 times, India has been the most successful team of the SAFF championship. India won it in 1993, 1997, 1999, 2005, 2009 and 2011.
The draw for the 2015 SAFF Suzuki Cup was announced and hosts India have been drawn in group A with Nepal, Sri Lanka and arch-rivals Pakistan. The Group B includes Afghanistan, Bhutan, Maldives and Bangladesh pitted against each other. The highest-ranked team in the tournament is Afghanistan, according to the latest FIFA rankings. India will be hosting the tournament for the 3rd time.
The 2015 SAFF Suzuki Cup is the 11th edition of the SAFF championship. It is being hosted in Trivandrum, India from 23 December 2015 to 3 January 2016. For this edition, Pakistan withdrew from the tournament in November 2015 due a dispute within the nation's football federation. Afghanistan is the defending champion, being the last one to have won it in 2013.
India bounced back from a goal down to beat Nepal 4-1 in their final group match, to seal the semifinal berth in the SAFF Cup. Goals from the Indian team were scored by Rowlin Borges, skipper Sunil Chettri, and Chhangte Lallianzuala. Chhangte Lallianzuala, playing only his second international match, scored a brace (81', 90') in the final 10 minutes of the match.
Lallianzuala Chhangte, the 18-year-old Mizo sensation became the youngest ever goalscorer for India, beating the record held by Baichung Bhutia.
India entered the final of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup beating Maldives 3-2 in the semi-final at the Thiruvananthapuram International Stadium in Kerala. Skipper Sunil Chhetri (24') and Jeje Lalpekhlua (33', 65') contributed to the scoreline for India. This will be India's 10th appearance in finals of the tournament. India will now face the winner of Sri Lanka vs Afghanistan semi-final match.