India continued its frustrating run in the SAFF Championship 2021 with a 0-0 draw against Sri Lanka at the Maldives National Stadium in Male on Thursday.
They are held to a 0-0 draw by Sri Lanka, who are ranked 98 places below them in the FIFA rankings, in their second match of the tournament. India failed to threaten Sri Lanka much at any point in the match while the Sri Lankan defenders succeeded in their strategy of slowing down the game and stopping India in their box.
India and Sri Lanka remain goalless after 100 minutes of football. Worryingly for India, seven-time SAFF Championship winners, they are yet to get a winner. Sri Lanka, after two defeats, gets a draw to salvage some pride. Blue Tigers, the far superior side on paper, look toothless after two games.
On Thursday, Sri Lanka went on the defense after initial runs along the flanks while its goalkeeper and captain Sujan Perera remained rock-solid between the sticks.
Sunil Chhetri, who had the opportunity to equal Pele’s record of international goals, looked secluded up front and also expressed his frustration during the cooling breaks.
In what was termed the ‘slowest match of the tournament’ by commentators, India struggled to create any chances of note. Igor Stimac’s men lacked creativity and fluidity as Sunil Chhetri has found himself isolated on a number of occasions.
This is the just the fifth draw in the last 21 matches between the two south-Asian countries.
The draw will put more pressure on Igor Stimac, whose coaching has been under scrutiny since this tournament began last week. The draw leaves India in third place with 2 points from 2 games while Sri Lanka, at least for now, pick themselves up to fourth on the table with their first point of the campaign from three games.
India, which has won the SAFF tournament the most number of times (7), will go up against Nepal in the next match and will look to win that with a big margin if it has any hope of winning it this time.