Afghanistan registered a comfortable 3-0 win over minnows Bhutan in their Group B encounter of the SAFF Championships, held at the Trivandrum International Stadium, Kerala. The win takes the defending champions into the top of the Group B, level on points with Maldives who had won earlier today against Bangladesh. Bhutan though with the defeat see themsleves exit the competition having lost both their fixtures.
Peter Sergt made two changes to the side that downed Bangladesh in their previous game asZubayr Amiri and Mustafa Zazai were replaced by Omid Popalzay and Khaibar Amini. Man Gurung and mifielder L.Dorji came in for Bhutan as Pema Dorji looked to pack the midfield against their strong counterparts.
The game saw the Afghans dominate the proceedings from the word go as they dominated the possession. But for all their incisive passing, the 2013 champions found it hard to break the Bhutanese defensive wall.
In the 12th minute young Popalzay had the best chance for the Afghans but his shot from 30-yards out went over the crossbar, hardly troubling the Bhutan custodian.
Afghanistan were finally rewarded for their domination two minutes later. Mustafa Hadid’s cross from the left was turned in by Khaibar Amini. The forward put the ball through the legs of the keeper to give the side in white the lead.
Amani had a chance to double the advantage but his header from Masih Saighani’s cross was off target. The striker should have buried that from 5-yards out.
Saighani though didn’t make a meel of his header on the 43rd minute as he scored off Norla Amiri’s free-kick to give Afghanistan a 2-0 lead at half-time.
Sergt’s men started the second half in similar fashion as they did the first and with five minutes of restart they put the game to bed. Amini added his second and Afghanistan’s third of the game. The striker pounced on the opportunity and headed Kanischka Taher’s cross to put the side in comfort zone.
There was little action then on as Afghanistan rarely threatened on the Bhutan goal and looked content with the lead in hand. Amiri had a chance seven minutes from full time but his effort from the edge of the box missed the far post.
That turned out to be the final opportunity of the game as Afghanistan registered a fairly comfortable win, moving to the top of the standings. For Bhutan though, they will look to open their account against Bangladesh, both of whom have been eliminated from the tournament.