Controversial penalty turns final in favour of defending champions, who emerge 4-0 winners
Defending champions India dominated the last 20 minutes of the SAFF Cup football final against a 10-man Afghanistan at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium yesterday, thrashing them 4-0 for their sixth title.
Patriots: Indian players wave the national flag after winning the SAFF Cup. Pic/AFP
Controversy Afghanistan were very much in the game till the 68th minute but a contentious penalty and a controversial red-card to goalkeeper Hameedullah Yousufzari by Singapore referee Sukhbir Singh ended Afghanistan's fairy-tale journey.
Sunil Chhetri converted the penalty in the 71st minute and helped India to add two more through Clifford Miranda (79th), Jeje Lalpeklua (80th). Substitute Sushil Singh (90+) struck in injury time. Chettri emerged the top scorer with seven goals.
Afghanistan were clearly the better team and had the match in control till the 68th minute. But the penalty and the red-card to Yousufzari, for pushing the referee, proved the turning point.
Lucky penalty For India the penalty was lucky as Jeje was fouled on the edge of the box by defender Faisal Safa. The decision infuriated the Aghan goalkeeper, who pushed the referee. Play was held up for three minutes as Yousufzari and coach Mohammed Yusuf Kargar furiously protested but their efforts were futile.
Chhetri had to retake the penalty after his first attempt was cancelled for intrusion by Nirmal Chettri in the penalty box. India bagged the winner's purse of $50,000 while Afghanistan were richer by $25,000. All India Football Federation (AIFF) president Praful Patel also announced an additional R1 lakh for the Indian players