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12-11-2009, 11:45 PM #1
Sushil strikes to take India to SAFF Cup final
Last year's finalists India defeated hosts Bangladesh 1-0 in the semi-final at the packed Bangabandhu Stadium here Saturday to set-up a title-clash with defending champions Maldives in the South Asian football Federation (SAFF) Cup.
Captain Shushil Kumar struck from a free-kick in the 62nd minute to seal the victory in favour of India, who have fielded an under-23 team in the tournament.
Earlier in the day, Maldives whipped Sri Lanka 5-1 to qualify for Monday's final.
In the second match, the packed Bangabandhu Stadium witnessed an exciting clash as Bangladesh, egged on by the fans, came close to scoring on quite a few occasions but lacked a good finisher.
India, however, put up their best performance in the tournament to seal their third consecutive final appearance.
India were in the attacking mode right from the start. Sushil's diving header that lacked power was easily saved by Bangladesh goalkeeper Aminul Haque in the 16th minute and two minutes later Zeze Lalpeklua nodded wide from just five yards.
Bangladesh came out with a better game plan in the second half to keep India goalkeeper Arindam Bhattacharya busy. But their poor defence helped India take the lead after Sushil's grounded free-kick went past Haque.
India defended strongly in the last 10 minutes to keep the lead safe and move into the final.
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