India defeat Nepal 3-0 to claim South Asian Football Federation crown

© Twitter/Indian Football
© Twitter/Indian Football

Male, Maldives, October 17, 2021: Talismanic captain Sunil Chhetri led India to a 3-0 victory over Nepal to win the 2021 South Asian Football Federation Championship for the eighth time on Saturday, October 16.

On a rainy night and in front of a few thousand fans at the National Football Stadium in Male, the Blue Tigers tamed a spirited Nepalese outfit, maiden finalists, with three second-half goals. 

Indian skipper Chhetri opened the scoring in the 48th minute with a simple header and within a couple of minutes the lead was doubled with youngster Suresh Singh Wangjam drilling a shot past the defence. Substitute Sahal Abdul Samad put the icing on the cake with a third goal in the 90th minute.

With his opening goal, the 37-year-old Chhetri joined Argentine superstar Lionel Messi as the second-highest goal-scorer among active players – they both have 80 international goals, only behind Portuguese goal-machine Cristiano Ronaldo (115).

Chhetri, who was playing in his 125th match, won the Man of the Match award, the tournament’s Top Scorer Award with five goals, and was also named as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

In the round-robin stage of the five-team competition – the other three teams were hosts Maldives, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka – India had beaten Nepal 1-0 with Chhetri scoring the solitary goal. The final was the 12th for India in 13 editions.