SAFF cup semifinal pits two of the regional giants against each other in the first match where two teams on the rise meet each other for their first shot in the finals. Nepal and Afghanistan has shown many encouraging signs during their group campaign, not many would have predicted a semifinal showdown between these two nations. Regional super powers India and Maldives to some extent has not been able to match up to the expectations but as we see often champions shifts to top gear when needed and we can expect some marvelous footballing action in the semifinals.

.

INDIA
v
MALDIVES

JN Stadium, Delhi

December 09, 2011; 15:00 IST

***

.

Host India has not been able to match up to the expectations of the crowd. Their tendency to play aimless long balls hoping that another man in blue might reach the end of it hasnai??i??t helped a bit. Possession based football is still a wild dream unless and until coach makes the brave decision to drop the experienced legs which hoops the long ball every now and then.

Group matches has shown that Indians starts in a slow tempo and plays it safe in the initial stages. India needs to open up the opposition with some slick passing and at times strikers Chettri and Jeje had shown their willingness to drop deep, in order to get involved in the build-up play. Football fans loves to watch those kinds of mesmerizing moves with ball moving faster and players roaming around to get away from tight man marking.

Ever reliable Nabi has been in brilliant form currently except the match against the Island Nation and his overlapping runs and ability to find space in tight situation has proved out to be the most valuable and consistent attacking outlet. Chettri has found the net 4 times already, but his performances havenai??i??t been consistent. He needs to lead the line with more consistency so that ai???Bhangra boysai??i?? can build their team around him. Clifford Miranda has been providing decent deliveries across the six yard box but the same cannot be said about the right wingers Anthony and Dias. Karanjit Singh has excelled between the poles and with an improved defensive support he will be hoping that he can keep the ai???Red Snappersai??i?? Ashfaq and co. in his pockets.

ai???Red snappersai??i?? attacking line will be led by Ali Ashfaq and Ahmed Tariq. Many people are considering the sharp shooter Ashfaq as the best player in this region. Opposition teams have been keeping an eye on him throughout the match and still found it difficult to stop him in his tracks. Indian Coach Savio Medeira says ai???As a team, we will do our best to keep Ali Ashfaq quiet. He is a very good player and we will do our homework on him.ai??? Whether the homework will come good or not we have to wait until Friday evening to get the result.

Maldives Coach Istvan Urabnyi believes in hard work and team effort. Maldives hasnai??i??t been victorious in their previous two semifinal outings against India; he will be hoping it this time around. Midfield pairing of Mohamed Arif and Ibrahim Fazeel had a bad day in office and the forwards were starved of ball in the opening match against Nepal, Gradually they picked up the pace and will provide a stern test for Indian captain and co. in the center of the park. If Ashfaq is their finisher,Ai?? Arif is the lynch pin of the team.

He distributes the ball all around the pitch and India needs to stop the master-creator to make their path towards the 6th championship. Maldives has been found on theAi?? backfoot on more than one occasion in this championship, but their counter attacking game proved out to be a serious threat and the defending champions India might opt for a safety first approach against the skillful Red Snappers.

Players to watch out for: Syed Rahim Nabi (India), Sunil Chhetri (India), Ali Ashfaq (Maldives), Mohamed Arif (Maldives)

Prediction : India 1-0 Maldives

 

.

AFGHANISTAN
v
NEPAL

JN Stadium, Delhi

December 09, 2011; 18:00 IST

***

.

Nepal started brilliantly against Maldives in New Delhi and their superior fitness and stamina has been one of the major talking points this time around. Full back Robin Shrestha has been invading the opponent territory throughout and the Ghorkhalis usually spends most of the time in opposition half. Midfield trio of Bharath Khawas, Raju Tamang and Bijaya Gurung has been impressive in creating havoc inside the opposition box but the strikers Anil Gurung, Santhosh Sahukhala and Jumanu Rai had let down the Ghorkhalis on a number of occasions with their poor finishing.

Graham Roberts is a former European Cup winner with Tottenham Hotspur and he knows the success formulae. Roberts gives more importance to strong defence and his wordai??i??s echoed the same before the tournament ai???I believe if we can keep clean sheets we can go to the finals and I have instructed it to the playersai???. Nepali team has been built around brilliant defenders Sagar Thapa and Rohit Chand. Nepal does not have a Ali Ashfaq or a Sunil Chhetri in their line-up but their midfield trio has opened up all the teams with superior creativity.

Poor finishing is the reason why the midfielders are not there in lime-light. Ghorkhali midfielders keeps on creating chances and the strikerai??i??s keeps on missing them; the latter needs to be changed if they want to script a successful SAFF championship which will pave the way towards financial stability for these players.

Afghanistan on the other hand has been troubled by the bomb blast that took place in Kabul recently. Many people including relatives of one of the Afghan players lost their lives. Afghanistan dedicated their massive 8-1 win against Bhutan to the people who lost their lives. They live in a place where there is no security to their lives but the football they play is refreshing and the one which will keep people glued on to their seats.

Mohammed Yousuf Kargaiai??i??s men have produced some brilliant attacking moves and they are expected to provide a run for their money to the Ghorkhali defence. Balal Arezou leads the scoring chart with 5 goals to his name, while Sanjar Ahmadi, Ata Yamrali, Zohib Islam Amiri, Mohammed Mashriqi and Djelaludin Shrityar have all found their way to the net in this tournament. Talibani people will be putting their money on them without any hesitation as these people effortlessly slots the ball home and is expected to do the same against the Ghorkhalis.

Afghan Skipper Haroon Fakhrudin leads the team with vision and creativity where as his counterpart Sagar Thapa is an inspirational skipper who has improved in leaps and bounds during these years. Fakhrudhin is the engine behind the Afghan team whereas Sandjar Ahmadi and Balal Arezou popps out of nowhere to blast the ball home. Shrityar is known to mark a player out of the game and he got rave reviews after his outstanding work against Indian stiker Chhetri. Afghan will be relying on the creative geniuses Sandjar Ahmadi and Israfel Kohistani to open up the stubborn Nepali defence. Nepal and Afghanistan has performed above expectations so far, can they produce the best when it matters the most?

Players to Watch out for: Balal Arezou (Afghanistan, Fakruddin (Afghanistan), Sagar Thapa (Nepal), Rohit Chand (Nepal)

Prediction : Nepal 0-1 Afghanistan

Ai??- Joseph George

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6 Responses to “SAFF Cup 2011 : Semi Final Preview – India And Maldives Renew Rivalry, Afghanistan And Nepal Aim for Glory”

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  1. India has a rivalry with Maldives? Are we that bad? :-/

    • Joseph says:

      India and Maldives locked horns in the last two SAFF finals. In 2008, India lost to Maldives by a sloitary goal. Indians repaid it in 2009 by winning the championship in penalty shoot out. Both teams met recently in a Friendly match (July 2011) which ended 1-1.

  2. Rajesh says:

    Well done India for reaching the finals. Hope they will lift the cup this time too.

  3. Komow says:

    the final match is on 11th Dec.
    but at what time is the match ?

  4. Luigi Fulk says:

    The idea of “distributions” and “projects” doesn’t appeal very much to me, at least if I am not sure that after installing that distribution.