KATHMANDU: Afghanistan, which has silenced the home team during the semi-finals of the SAFF Championship 2013, has finally lifted the trophy of SAFF Championship 2013 defeating defending champions India 2-0 in the final held at Dasharath Stadium in Kathmandu, Wednesday evening.
Mustafa Azadzoy and Sanjar M Ahmadi struck either side of the break to avenge their 4-0 loss against the same opponent in the final of the previous edition in New Delhi in 2011. Wednesday’s result was also Afghanistan’s first victory over India in their six previous encounters. India also made some goods moves in the match, including its captain Sunil Chhetri’s. But all went in vain.
This was the second consecutive encounter for these two teams in the final of the Championship. Earlier, India had defeated Afghanistan 4-0 in SAFF 2011 final held in New Delhi.
India has claimed the title five times, including two wins of 2009 and 2011 in a row. Likewise, Sri Lanka and Maldives have won the regional football jamboree one time each.
During this year’s semi-final matches, India defeated Maldives, while Afghanistan trounced Nepal to set up a second consecutive SAFF final encounter Wednesday.
Goalkeeper Mansur Fagiryar, the MVP of the tournament, who was key to Afghans’ final victory, said title was more important than his own achievement. “I feel great honour to be here. This is a great moment for the people of Afghanistan scattered across the world. This trophy is for them,” said Fagiryar, who conceded just one goal in five matches.
Government Chairman Khil Raj Regmi, Minister for Youth and Sports Ram Kumar Shrestha, President of South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Kazi Salahuddin, National Sports Council Member Secretary Yubaraj Lama, President of All Nepal Football Association Ganesh Thapa among others handed over the prizes.
With this title, the Afghani team received a purse of USD 50,000, while the runner-up team received USD 25,000. Semi finalists Nepal and Maldives won cash prize of USD 10,000 each. Nepali players received the fair-play award, while Afghanistani players Mansur Fagiryar received the most valuable award.
(Logo Courtesy: www.goalnepal.com)
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