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POST TIME: 13 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 13 September, 2018 12:44:26 AM
Maldives eliminate Nepal 3-0
Waheed strikes twice as Akram adds the other
Sports Reporter

Maldives eliminate Nepal 3-0

Players and officials of The Maldives team celebrate after eliminating Nepal by 3-0 in the first semifinal of SAFF Suzuki Cup at Bangabandhu National Stadium in the capital yesterday. BFF Photo

Maldives eased into the final of SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018 after beating Nepal by 3-0 goals in the keenly-contested first semifinal of the championship at the Bangabandhu National Stadium (BNS) yesterday.

Forward Ibrahim Hassan Waheed struck a brace and defender-turned-captain Akram Abdul Ghanee netted one goal for the winners.

Now the Maldives will fight either Pakistan or India, the winners of the second semifinals, in the summit clash of the seven-nation tournament on Saturday.

Germany-born Maldives coach Segrt Peter Hrvatsko made five changes in their starting line-up from the last group-match against red-hot favourites India, who are yet to lose any match at group stage.

Nepal on the other hand fielded the identical squad what they got down against the hosts Bangladesh, who conceded 2-0 goals that made an early exit of the tournament despite being started a high-flying start.

Dhaka seems to be lucky ground for Maldives as they will play in final berths for the third time in Dhaka, who had hosted earlier in 2003 and 2009 respectively before the incumbent edition.

It is Maldives who first broke the deadlock of the match on the nine minutes of the first-half when captain Akram Abdul Ghanee scored with a fantastic free-kick in front of a sparse crowd.

They had got another scoring chance to double their advantage just five-minute after the first goal when forward Hassan Naiz from the left-flank took a powerful close-range shot that hit the side bar.

The match was progressing through the drizzling from the very beginning but at a stage, players were frightened in the wake of the repeated lightning. Then, Sri Lankan referee H C Dilan Perera stopped the game on the 28th minute.

Before resuming the remaining period of the first-half at 5:00pm, the proceeding of the match was halted for nearly 32 minutes.

After the first half, both Maldives and Nepal took discrete strategy: first defense and then attack so that they could create more scoring opportunities and capitalise goals.

Forward Hassan Niaz entered into the D-box area getting along-pass from mid-field but his effort was blocked by the Nepalese defender on the edge of the goal-mouth.

On the other hand, Nepal substitute Anjan Bista provided an ensuring scoring pass but forward Bimal Gharti Magar missed to connect his leg before missing another chance on 75th minute.

Maldives forward Ibrahim Hassab Waheed doubled the margin when he got a ball from deflection of Nepalese defender Dinesh Rajbanshi, the shot actually initiated substitute Asadhulla Abdulla.

Just three minutes later, agile Waheed he netted his second goal of the match on the 87th minute and extended the Maldives’ lead further.