Maldives, Afghanistan win in SAFF Championships

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 26 (IANS) Maldives beat Bangladesh 3-1 and Afghanistan overshadowed Bhutan 3-0 in their respective matches at the SAFF Championships here at the Trivandrum International Stadium on Saturday.

In the first encounter, Ali Ashfaq, Naiz Hassan and Ahmed Nashid netted one each for Maldives. Hemonta Biswas got a consolation goal for Bangladesh.

For Afghanistan, it was Khaibar Amani who scored a brace and Masih Saighani also got on the scoresheet.

In the earlier game, Maldives found it difficult to break open Bangladesh till the 43rd minute but then Waly Faisal used his hands to deflect a Imaaz Ahmed curler inside the box. The referee had no choice but to award a spot kick. Ashfaq stepped up and smashed the ball into the net with tremendous power to give his side the lead.

Biswas then grabbed the equalizer for Bangladesh in the 86th minute as his long ranger found the net after coming off a defender.

Hassan , however, in the 90th minute scored with a fantastic finish, flicking the ball past the goalkeeper for Maldives to go 2-1 up.

A few minutes later in injury time Bangladesh messed up a free kick at the other end and it led to a counter attack which resulted in Nashid blasting home his side’s third of the night.

In the second game of the day Amani opened the scoring for Afghanistan in the 14th minute with a strike that went through the legs of the Bhutanese custodian.

Two minutes from the breather Saighani made it 2-0 for Afghanistan with a fine header from a Zoheb Amiri cross.

Amani in the early minutes of the second half, struck again to help his side register a comfortable victory.

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