Maldives and Sri Lanka played out a goalless draw in their 2018 SAFF Championship group B clash at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh on Friday. This was Maldives’ first match of the tournament, while Sri Lanka came into the tie on the back of a 2-0 loss to defending champion India in its opening encounter.
The Maldives were unbeaten in six SAFF Suzuki Cup meetings with Sri Lanka (W5 D1), winning each of the last four in a row. In addition Sri Lanka has conceded 20 goals across their six SAFF Suzuki Cup games against the Maldives, while scoring just twice themselves, so although the hopes of Sri Lanka progressing further maybe slim, this could still be a sign of progress. Sri Lanka also sprung a surprise victory beating Bangladesh 1-0 in a pre tournament friendly.
Sri Lanka went in to the game needing a win to progress from the group, following their defeat at the hands of India earlier in the week and will now rely on India thrashing the Maldives to progress.
Head Coach Nizam Packeer Ali made some bold decisions in dropping captain Subash Madushan, Mohamed Rifnaz and Sajith Kumara. In their place came Harsha Fernando, Dilan Kaushalya and Asela Madushan respectively.
Maldives dominated the ball for large parts of the game and boasted 62 per cent possession, while Sri Lanka fired 14 shots but failed to find the back of the net. The draw leaves Maldives in the second spot with one point, while Sri Lanka will hope India beats the Maldives by a margin of 3 goals in the next match.
For Maldives this result may seem a regression and may not go well with fans, after pre tournament expectations were to beat Sri Lanka easily to book a place in the next round. The result means they now to have to manage the high flying defending champions on Sunday.
Maldives will next face table-topper India on Sunday in a must-win clash. India has all but sealed its spot in the semifinal and Maldives will have to win or at least claim a draw to progress.
Current FIFA rankings (August 2018)
Sri Lanka 200