Dhaka, Sep 5 (IANS) The Indian football team began its SAFF Cup campaign with a 2-0 win over Sri Lanka in their opening fixture at the Bangabandhu Stadium here on Wednesday.
A goal each from Ashique Kuruniyan (35th minute) and Lalianzuala Chhangte (47th) settled the issue for the defending champions.
India, fielding the youngest team in the competition, raided the rival citadel on a number of occasions in the opening exchanges, keeping the islanders on tenterhooks.
In the 36th minute, Ashique sped past his marker and slotted the ball home past a diving keeper for his first international goal.
Almost immediately after, India came close to doubling the lead but Chhangte’s narrow miss, and a number of acrobatic saves by the Sri Lankan goalie kept the scoresheet unchanged.
After the breather, India took less than 120 seconds to score the second. Chhangte’s deep cross from the left wing was misread by the Sri Lankan goalie and it handed India a 2-0 lead.
Chhangte, by that time, had changed flanks and looked more effective down the left, the Islanders having a torrid time to keep him in check.
Nikhil Poojary, who had a season-long injury lay-off was introduced after the hour-mark and tried his luck off a corner off a Thapa corner but it sailed over the crossbar.
Farukh Chowdhury and substitute Manvir Singh also had their chances but were unable to cash in despite staying in advantageous positions. First, Farukh blasted into the crossbar in the 75th minute, and off the rebound, Manvir missed to connect it properly to find the third goal.
Courtesy the victory, India stay on top of Group B and they next take on Maldives on September 9.