Hello and welcome to Sportstar’s live blog of the India vs Bangladesh SAFF Championship 2021 match being played live at the at the Maldives National Football Stadium.
This is Aneesh Dey bringing you the minute-by-minute update.
Title favourites India begins its SAFF Championships campaign against a plucky Bangladesh on Monday, knowing fully well that it is just “a little bit superior” to its opponents despite the domination in this regional tournament.
India has won the tournament seven times out of the 12 editions but by the own admission of its talismanic captain Sunil Chhetri, every match will be like a “war to fight”.
Bangladesh has been a tough customer for India, which had needed a late equaliser in the first leg of the 2022 World Cup qualifiers match in Kolkata to draw 1-1. The Blue Tigers had though won the second leg 2-0.
READ: SAFF Championship 2021: All you need to know
“Bangladesh are very difficult side. In the two matches we played against Bangladesh in the last few months, it has been very tough,” Chhetri had said.
“All the matches (of the tournament) will be tough. Despite a little bit of superiority we many have, every game will be like a war to fight. We have to fight to the last minute. We cannot play 90 per cent.”
The five-team tournament began on Friday with Nepal and Bangladesh beating the Maldives and Sri Lanka by identical 1-0 margins respectively.
Head coach Igor Stimac is taking the SAFF Championships, as the last opportunity for the players to play international matches before the start of the third round of 2023 AFC Asian Cup qualifiers in February next year.
He has not minced words in declaring that India is the favourite to win the tournament, saying “we will justify ourselves”.
Indian captain Sunil Chhetri said, “”Bangladesh are very difficult side. In the two matches we played against Bangladesh in the last few months, it has been very tough.” – AIFF
“The first game is always the most difficult game. Bangladesh is a known opponent, but we respect them immensely. In fact, we respect each and every team playing out here, and they have an equal chance to win the tournament,” the coach said.
Stimac made no secret that he will be making the most out of the ATK Mohun Bagan and Bengaluru FC players, having played in the Maldives earlier in the AFC Cup.
“We rely on Bengaluru FC and ATKMB players because not only they played here a few weeks back, but they started work with their respective clubs. And they had enough training sessions and games in their legs. So their engines are good for such a tournament,” he said.
READ: We would like to play the SAFF Championship without any nervousness, says Stimac
“We need to be careful as to how many minutes we give to each player corresponding to what they can do at the moment with regards to endurance capacities.” Chhetri said the message from our coaching staff and head coach is very clear that the players have to minimise mistakes.” “It is more and much more about how we play. We have to make sure that in every game no matter what, we give 100 percent. We cannot be complacent,” he said.
Chhetri, a veteran of 16 years in international football, said he doesn’t want to lose any game for the country.
“When you are young you play for a lot of things. As you get older, a lot of them diminishes. I’ve played over 100 games for India, I don’t have another 100 and I want to make the most of all the games I have left.
READ: Indian men’s football team’s SAFF Championship campaign to be shown on Eurosport
“I want to win a game if I am playing for my country. Both the games against Bangladesh have been extremely difficult ones. I don’t want to lose any game for my country,” he said.
Other than Chhetri and goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, Pritam Kotal was also a part of the triumphant squad in 2015.
Complete Indian squad
Goalkeepers: Dheeraj Singh, Vishal Kaith, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu
Defenders: Pritam Kotal, Chinglensana Singh Konsham, Mandar Rao Dessai, Rahul Bheke, Subhasish Bose, Seriton Fernandes.
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
Complete Bangladesh Squad
Goalkeepers: Anisur Rahman Zico, Sahidul Alam Sohel, Ashraful Islam Rana
Defenders: Topu Barman, Bishwanath Ghosh, Rahmat Mia, Tariq Raihan Kazi, Riyadul Hasan Rafi, Yeasin Arafat, Razaul Karim, Tutul Hossain Badsha, Mohammad Hridoy
Midfielders: Sohel Rana, Jamal Bhuyan, Saad Uddin, Rakib Hossain, Atiqur Rahman Fahad
Forwards: Biplo Ahamed, Mahbubur Rahman, Mohammad Ibrahim, Matin Miah, Suman Reza, Jewel Rana.
Where can you watch?
|The SAFF Championship will be telecast in India on Eurosport and Eurosport HD. It can also be watched live online on Discovery + App.|