India have continued their SAFF Cup dominance as they defeated Afghanistan in the finals of the competition at Trivandrum International Stadium on Sunday with the score reading 2-1. India clinched the game in extra time after the scores were tied at 1-1 during regulation time.
Sunil Chhetri's goal during the first half of extra time helped the home team win the elusive title for the seventh time ever since its inception in 1993.
India, who had not lost a single game in the competition en route to the finals, produced a great performance to win the title and entertain the massive crowd gathered in the stadium. Afghanistan took lead with Zubair Amiri's strike in the 71st minute but India came back immediately with Jeje Lalpekhlua scoring for India in the 72nd minute.
The game, which was closely contested, came to light in second half especially after Afghanistan scored the first goal. Both teams got their fair share of chances in the latter stages of regulation time, but neither team found the back of the net.
Earlier in the first half, India had come close to taking lead as Jeje's header hit the crossbar. However, Afghanistan, who were one of the standout teams in the competition, could not play their fluid style of football, which had seen them dominate other teams in the competition. India midfielders did not allow the Afghanistan players to play their normal game, which played an important role in India emerging victorious.
Apart from the midfielders and forwards, India's defence also stood tall throughout the game to help India win the major title.
Both the nations were also involved in the finals of the last two editions of the tournament with India winning it in 2011 and Afghanistan in 2013. The next edition of the SAFF Cup is set to be played in Bangladesh in 2017.
Will 2017 SAFF Cup also witness an India vs Afghanistan final? Only time will tell.