India played their best match of the tournament as they beat Bangladesh by a solitary goal in the semi-final to set up a title clash against holders Maldives in the SAFF Championships here today.
Captain Sushil Kumar scored the all-important goal in the 62nd minute with a faint touch off a free kick by Robert Lalthama from just outside the box.
Under floodlights and in front of the capacity crowd at Bangabandhu National Stadium, the Indian under-23 boys dished out a vastly improved performance against the home side to book a berth in the final on Sunday.
Maldives had earlier outplayed Sri Lanka 5-1 in the first semi final earlier in the day.
It will be a repeat of the last edition final in Colombo where India seniors, under Bob Houghton, lost to Maldives 0-1.
Today’s win also avenged India’s defeat at the hands of Bangladesh in the 2003 edition semi-final here.
India, four-time winners, has now made it to the final of the SAFF championships for the seventh time out of the eight editions so far. The 2003 edition was the only time India could not make it to the summit clash.
Sukhwinder Singh’s boys were a totally transformed side after their lacklustre show in the group stages. This without striker Balwant Singh, who got a red card in the earlier match and midfielder Manish Maithani due to injury.