Sri Lanka’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-final of the 12th SAFF Championship suffered a blow when they were held to a goalless draw by Maldives in their final Group B match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium on Friday.
The result means, reigning champions India advanced into the last-four of the competition following their dominating 2-0 win over Sri Lanka on Wednesday.
Maldives need at least one point from their last match against India to confirm their place in the semi-finals while Sri Lanka still can make it to the last-four if India beat Maldives by a margin of 3-0.
Sri Lanka, the lowest ranked team in this group, were unlucky not to get a goal in the last 10 minutes as they created series of attacks against an inexperienced Maldives defence but couldn’t find the target.
However, Maldives dominated the first one-hour of the match but Sri Lanka’s experienced keeper Sujan Perera made some quality saves to keep the net intact.
Perera made a goal-line clearance in the very third minute when he blocked a low header of Hassan Niaz.
Maldives could take the lead in the 16th minute when striker Ali Fasir saw his low free-kick hit the side post.
Perera made another good save to deny Hassan Naiz’s effort in the 26th minute when the forward ran past his marker and broke into the penalty area but his shot was saved by the Sri Lankan keeper.
Maldives wasted the best chance of the match in the 57th minute when Mohamed Irufaan missed to connect a square pass of Ali Fasir from a hand-shaking distance.
Asikur Rahuman tired a powerful shot from 30-yard out in the 66th minute but Maldives keeper Mohamed Faisal was there to the rescue.
Moments later, Mohamad Fazal also tried his luck with a shot from just outside the box but again Faisal made a five save.
Sri Lanka could score in the 82nd minute when Maldives keeper Faisal failed to clear a powerful shot of Asela Madushan but Kavindu Ishan saw his attempt from rebounder rebounder going straight to the keeper.
Ishan tried another powerful shot a minute later but the ball went just inches wide.
Asikur saw his placing shot from right corner of the box went over the post in the 87th minute.
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