Preview: India set to face their last hurdle to be crowned SAFF Championship 2021 winners

After a tough start to their tournament with two draws, India bounced back in their last two group matches against Nepal and Maldives to finish as the table-toppers. However, the task is not yet complete with the final challenge against Nepal due on 16 October to take the throne in the SAFF Championship 2021.

India remains the only team undefeated and India now faces Nepal who they have already managed to defeat once in this tournament. The signs reflect odd stacked in favour of India to take the final comprehensively with the momentum behind them.

This will be Nepal’s first appearance in the final of the SAFF Championship. They last defeated India (2-1) in the tournament in the 2013 edition. However, India leads the overall head-to-head record 15-2 in 22 matches.

India’s kingpin, Sunil Chhetri has led this side by example so far and ensured India stayed in the tournament by scoring 4 out of the 5 goals put in the net by India. In the process, Chhetri became the third most-prolific scorer among active footballers with 79 goals, only behind Cristiano Ronaldo (115) and Lionel Messi (80).

To the press, Chhetri expressed that the job is not yet done. “They may not have an extraordinary player in their ranks like an Ali Ashfaq. But as far as attacking and defending are concerned, they do it as a team. They have been the best team that plays as a team in this Championship – they fight as a team.”

“We have played them thrice since September and they are extremely compact as a team and it’s not going to be easy. But we have become better and better as games have gone by, and in the final, we have to be at our best. We pulled our socks up after the first two games and now it is time to finish the job. But the job is not yet done,” added Chhetri.

Head Coach Igor Stimac stated, “We are not allowing complacency to step in. We are aware of what we need to do. There is a very tiny line between being confident and overconfident and I am keeping a close eye that we don’t cross that line.”

Squad:

Goalkeepers: Gurpreet Singh, Dheeraj Singh and Vishal Kaith.

Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Seriton Fernandes, Chinglensana Singh, Rahul Bheke, Subhasish Bose, Mandar Rao Dessai.

Midfielders: Udanta Singh, Brandon Fernandes, Lalengmawia, Anirudh Thapa, Sahal Abdul Samad, Jeakson Singh, Glan Martins, Suresh Singh, Liston Colaco, Yasir Mohammad.

Forwards: Manvir Singh, Rahim Ali, Sunil Chhetri, Farukh Choudhary.

Kick-off time: 8:30 PM (IST)

Broadcast: Eurosport

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