By Susil Premalal
Defending champions India will start as strong favourites when they confront the Maldives in the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup Tournament final at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh tomorrow (15).
The Indian Team has emerged as the only unbeaten side in the tournament with victories over Sri Lanka (2-0) and the Maldives (2-0) in the group stage before outplaying their arch rivals Pakistan (3-1) in the semi-finals.
In fact, India will be hoping to win the title for the eighth occasion out of 12 editions as they look to maintain their dominance in this regional tournament.
Meanwhile, the Maldives will make their appearance in a SAFF Cup final after a lapse of three years.
In contrast, India have played in the final of all the earlier 11 editions except in 2003.
The last time the Bangabandhu Stadium hosted the tournament in 2009 India and the Maldives faced each other in the final and both sides could not score a goal even after the extra time.
However, India won the final match in a penalty shootout.