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India book SAFF Cup semi-final with Pakistan on 12th

India on Sunday defeated Maldives in the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Suzuki Cup 2018 and booked a semi-final with Pakistan.

The semi-final between Pakistan and India, which will be the first official meeting of the two teams after a gap of five years, will be played at Dhaka’s Bangabandhu Stadium on Wednesday (September 12).

Pakistan football team on Saturday defeated Bhutan by 3-0 in the Group-A match of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship at Bangabandhu National Stadium, Bangladesh, to qualify for the semifinals of the tournament.

The men in green took lead in the first 20 minutes of the match with Mohammad Riaz opening the tally for Pakistan.

Nine minutes later, Pakistan doubled their lead as Hassan Bashir scored a goal. Pakistan ended the first half with a 2-0 lead over Bhutan.

In the second half, both the teams tried hard to score but no one was able to score the goal until the added injury time when Faheem Ahmed scored the third for Pakistan in the 91st minute.

The last time Pakistan and India had met in an official match was also in SAFF Championship in Kathmandu in September 2013. India had won 1-0 on that occasion.

The South Asian Football Federation Championship or SAFF Championship, also called SAFF Suzuki Cup for sponsorship reasons (previously known as South Asian Association of Regional Co-operation Gold Cup and SAFF Gold Cup), is the main association football competition of the men’s national football teams governed by the South Asian Football Federation. Previous names have included the South Asian Association of Regional Co-operation Gold Cup in 1993 and South Asian Gold Cup in 1995.

The countries that compete in the tournaments are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. It is held every two years. Afghanistan joined SAFF in 2005 and left the association in 2015 to become a founding member of Central Asian Football Federation (CAFF).

The South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship kicked off in Kathmandu in 1997, evolving out of its forerunner, the South Asian Association of Regional Co-operation (SAARC) Gold Cup. Since its inception, the biennial competition has developed into South Asia’s premier football tournament, promoting the regional development of the game. The SAFF Championship 2001 was first postponed from Oct/Nov 2001 to Jan/Feb 2002 due to the suspension of the Bangladeshi FA from FIFA; the tournament finally took place in 2003. The 2018 edition is being hosted by Bangladesh.

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