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India lock horns with rampaging Afghanistan in SAFF Cup final

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India lock horns with rampaging Afghanistan in SAFF Cup final

TRIVANDRUM: Hosts India lock horns against defending champions Afghanistan in the grand finale of SAFF Cup 2015. The match, which is expected to attract sizeable amount of supporters into Greenfield Stadium, Trivandrum, is the third consecutive SAFF Cup final matchup between these two teams.

India defeated Sri Lanka and Nepal in the group stage to meet Maldives in the semis. An entertaining clash against the island nation saw the hosts come out the better of the two sides in a 3-2 win.

Afghanistan have dominated all of their games so far in the tournament. They came out comfortable victors against Bhutan and Bangladesh in the group stage, before thrashing Sri Lanka 5-0 in the semifinal on December 31.

Defending champions have looked solid in all areas of the pitch, with their offensive players taking away all the plaudits. Defenders Masih Saighani, full backs Hadid Mustafa and Hassan Amin deserves special mention for maintaining a watertight defense. Captain Faysal Shayesteh has consistently stood out in midfield, with others around him also complimenting each other really well. Khaibar Amani is currently on top of the goal scorer’s charts with 4 goals and will look to increase his tally when he lines up against Arnab Mondal and Augustin Fernandes of India today evening.

India and Afghanistan were the finalists in the previous two editions, with India winning 4-0 in 2011 and Afghanistan coming out 2-0 winners in 2013 to grab the trophy. This edition’s final is going to be even more unpredictable due to the rise in stature of the defending champions and India’s trust in youth.

Whether anyone side can dominate the other in such a high-decibel encounter is anyone’s guess. The match kicks off at 17: 30 Kabul local time at the Trivandrum International Stadium of India.