India beat Nepal to win 8th SAFF Championship: Record broken

Sunil Chhetri was brilliant for the Indian men’s football team as it won the 2021 SAFF Championship with a 3-0 win over Nepal in the final in Male, Maldives. The Blue Tigers put up a strong second-half performance to hand Igor Stimac their first silverware as head coach. India scored all their goals in the second half to trample Nepal.

A brilliant second half earned India a worthy trophy. Captain Chhetri scored in the 48th minute with a fine header from Pritam Kotal’s cross. Suresh Singh Wangjam doubled the lead two minutes later. Nepal failed to take their chance after trying hard to complete the route before Sahal Abdul Samad scored an amazing solo goal on death.

India won its eighth SAIF Championship title. He has now won the honor in 1993, 1997, 1999, 2005, 2009, 2011, 2015 and 2021. This was the third time that India scored more than three goals in the final. Notably, it was India’s 12th final (runner-up four times) in the tournament. They lost the 2018 final against Maldives. Meanwhile, Nepal reached their maiden SAFF Championship final.

India started the campaign on a tough note, earning two consecutive draws. He was held by 10-man Bangladesh in the opener (1-1). India failed to beat Sri Lanka in the next 0–0 affair. This was followed by a 1–0 win against Nepal in a necessary win scenario. India completed the group stage with another win against Maldives (3-1). This helped him secure a finale berth.

Chhetri was instrumental in helping India win the tournament. He finished with five goals (highest) in the tournament. Apart from the game against Sri Lanka, Chhetri scored runs in every match including a brace against Maldives. Pritam Kotal provided maximum assistance (2). Chhetri now has 18 goals in total in the tournament. He has also scored eight goals in 10 matches this year.

Chhetri is now the sixth player to score more than 80 goals in men’s international football. The veteran Indian striker has scored 80 goals in 125 matches. Notably, he reached the mark faster than Lionel Messi, who has scored 80 runs in 156 matches. Other players who have scored more than 80 goals are Cristiano Ronaldo (115), Ali Dei (109), Mokhtar Dahari (89), and Ferenc Puskas (84).