Chhetri and Co. Secure Victory Against Pakistan in SAFF Cup Opener

Chhetri and Co. Secure Victory Against Pakistan in SAFF Cup
Chhetri and Co. Secure Victory Against Pakistan in SAFF Cup Opener
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Thursday, 22 June 2023, Bengaluru, India

Sunil Chhetri led India, marched out of the Kanteerava Stadium in Banglore victoriously after showcasing a dominating performance and beating Pakistan in their first match of the SAFF Championship. India nicknamed the Blue Tigers, scored a whopping four goals in their first match in the SAFF Championship tournament. With Sunil’s hat-trick of goals and Udanta’s spectacular finish, India emerged victorious and backed a 14th win in the history of these sides’ meetings. 

After meeting for the first time in 1959, India has come a long way in their journey in Football. India is currently ranked 98th in the FIFA global rankings, and Pakistan is just about a hundred positions away in the list of rankings. Considering the rivalry the two countries have, it was inevitable the match will be thrilling to watch. Both teams looked at their best, but India seemed to have had control of the game from the start of the game. Recent successes of India have a much-required boost in confidence, and it really showed in the match against Pakistan.

India recently won the Intercontinental Cup held in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. Proving all the critics wrong, India powered through the tournament as the favorite against the likes of other Asian nations, like Lebanon, Vanuatu, and Mongolia. India maintained their unbeaten streak throughout the tournament and went on to win the finals against Lebanon.

Chhangte and Chhetri were the top goal-scorers of the tournament. Chhetri continued his goalscoring performance in the first match of the SAFF Championship by netting three goals before getting subbed off by Liston. Chhetri scored an early goal giving India the important lead. Later, Chhetri scored two from the penalty spot, taking his overall international goals tally to 90. Chhetri is currently the fourth-highest international goalscorer behind Cristiano Ronaldo (123), Ali Daei (109), and Lionel Messi (103).

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The stakes were high for both the teams that played in front of a buzzing 26000 plus spectators at the Kanteerava Stadium. While India looked forward to strengthening their dominating performance and building their unbeaten run, Pakistan was focused on getting a positive result at the hands of India’s defeat.

Pakistan has struggled so far in 2023, and a defeat at the hands of its rivals is only worse. So far, Pakistan has lost five matches that they have played in 2023, including the latest defeat at Banglore. However, Pakistan’s coach, Shahzad Anwar, was confident enough that the team would turn the tables around India. 

The SAFF Championship is an important tournament for both countries. It gives opportunities to play against the best teams in the region. While it has been a great start for India, Pakistan has only itself to blame. Their previous meeting was also in a SAFF Championship. India beat Pakistan by scoring three goals and conceding only one. It was played on 12th September 2018.

In all of the times the two teams have met before, India has emerged victorious 13 times, and Pakistan has won only thrice. There have been ten cases where the outcome was shared between the two. Currently, India has won 14 out of the 27 matches they have played against Pakistan. 

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Suraj Verma

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