India only lost once in the 1990s in the SAFF championship …
India will want to clinch their eighth SAFF championship title when the tournament starts on October 1 in the Maldives. They are the most successful team among the other participating countries including Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives and Sri Lanka.
Sunil Chhetri is the highest scorer among Indians with 13 strikes to his name. To become the top scorer of the competition, he must overtake Ashfaq Ali of the Maldives, who reached the rankings with 20 strikes.
India won 34 matches, drew ten and eventually lost eight times. Interestingly, four of the defeats came in the final. Three of the eight losses India suffered were against the Maldives.
Sri Lanka vs India (1-0)
In the SAFF Championship final in 1995, India closed horns with Sri Lanka. It was an intense battle and after 90 minutes both teams were inseparable. The match was extended, and in the second half Sarath Wellage broke Indian hearts with a winner in the 108th minute to give his team the silverware.
India vs Pakistan (0-1)
It was the first match of the 2003 edition of the SAFF Championship, where the two eternal rivals challenged each other. Neither team could break the deadlock in the first 45 minutes. After halftime, Pakistan found a feather in their feet and they took advantage of Sarfaraz Rassol in the 50th minute. IM Vijayan was close to scoring in the 70th minute, but his effort went an inch off the frame and India suffered a defeat.
Bangladesh vs India (2-1)
In the first semi-final, India hosted Bangladesh in a packed Bangabandhu Stadium in Dhaka. It took 77 minutes for the opening goal when Rokonuzzaman Kanchan was leading his team. However, Alvito D’Cunha equalized just four minutes later for India. But the opportunistic strike by Motiur Munna in the 98th minute drove Bangladesh to the finals.
India vs Maldives (0-1)
India are as the favorites in the final. They were unbeaten in the tournament and conceded just twice. The striking power of Sunil Chhetri and Bhaichung Bhutia looked threatening earlier in the tournament, but in the final they did not weave their magic. The island nation courtesy of a 77-minute strike by Mukhtar Naseer defeated India to win the SAFF championship. The issue was held in the Maldives for the first time.
Maldives vs India (2-0)
It was the last match in the group stage and India succumbed to a shock 2-0 defeat. One goal in each half from Ahmed Thoriq and Ibrahim Fazeel gave the Maldives the three points against the Blue Tigers. However, India took revenge on the Maldives as they beat them in the final to win the championship. India sent a U23 team to this tournament.
India vs Nepal (1-2)
Nepal won a shock victory over India at Dasarath Rangasala Stadium in Kathmandu in a group stage match. The Indians were on the back foot from the start and in the 70th minute the fortress was finally broken when Anil Gurung scored the opening batsman. 11 minutes later, Jumanu Rai doubled Nepal’s lead. India’s Syed Rahim Nabi scored a consolation goal for the visitors in injury time.
Afghanistan vs India (2-0)
India were played in the tournament again, and this time it was the Afghans who caused damage. Wim Kovermans’ India was no match and the opposition dominated the proceedings. They took just nine minutes to score the opening kick by Mustafa Azadzoy. The Dutch manager requested Sunil Chhetri to cancel the shortage on the hour, but the Afghan defense could not be violated. Instead, India conceded the second goal in the 62nd minute through Sandjar Ahmadi.
Maldives vs India (2-1)
India were the overwhelming favorite to win the SAFF championship, although coach Stephen Constantine preferred to play only U-23 players. They won all their matches in the competition very comfortably and even beat the Maldives 2-0 in the group stage. But in the final, India could not play their natural game. Ibrahim Mahudhee Hussain scored an early goal in the 19th minute, and the island nation increased their lead after the hour through Ali Fasir. Although Sumeet Passi scored a late goal, it was not enough to win the tournament.