India crowned SAFF Champions for 6th time


India overwhelmed Afghanistan 4-0 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi to lift the SAFF Championship title for the 6th time earlier today, 11 December 2011.

Afghanistan’s fairytale run to the final saw them take the fight to the home side for much of the game, with star striker Balal Arezou coming close to scoring. But India struck first in middle of 2nd half amid controversial circumstances.

Indian young gun Jeje Lalpekhlua appeared to have been fouled right at the edge of the box by Faisal Safa but Singaporean referee Sukhbir Singh awarded a penalty to India, and then sent-off Afghan goalkeeper Hameedullah Yousafzari for apparently pushing him in protest of the referee’s decision.

Indian spearhead Sunil Chhetri stepped up and slotted in the penalty for his 7th goal of the campaign to set things in motion as Afghanistan’s morale shattered in the final 20 minutes of the match.

Further goals from Clifford Miranda, Jeje Lalpekhlua, and Sushil Kumar Singh broke Afghanistan hearts as India rampaged onto a successful defence of their title in front of a jubilant crowd at the end with a 4-0 scoreline.

The Afghan coach Yousef Kargar was less than impressed with the refereeing in the game as he felt Sukhbir Singh’s decisions robbed Afghanistan of a winner’s spot.

Indian coach Savio Medeira was full of praise for Team India for playing as true champions throughout the tournament and becoming worthy winners of the 2011 SAFF Championship at the end.

Afghan-India SAFF 2011 final (Source: WSG)