In a dramatic turn of events during the SAFF Championships, an ugly brawl broke out between players from India and Nepal shortly after India’s captain, Sunil Chhetri, scored a crucial goal, securing a spot for India in the semi-finals of the tournament. The heated incident mirrored similar scenes from their previous match against Pakistan, once again adding a contentious edge to the game.
The incident unfolded in the second half of the match between India and Nepal. Despite a goalless first hour, India’s fortunes changed when Sunil Chhetri, fresh off his record-breaking hat-trick against Pakistan, slotted the ball into the net in the 61st minute after receiving a squared pass from Akash Mishra. Chhetri’s goal not only brought the scoreline to 1-0 but also marked his 91st goal for the Indian national team.
However, just three minutes after Chhetri’s goal, tempers flared on the pitch. Rahul Bheke of India and Nepal’s Bimal Magar found themselves involved in a scuffle following an aerial challenge, which left Bheke grounded. The altercation quickly escalated as players from both sides rushed to intervene, resulting in a brief melee. Nikhil Poojary of India and Magar even momentarily fell to the ground during the chaotic scene. The referee swiftly intervened to restore order and calm tensions.
Following the altercation, India regained their composure and less than 10 minutes later, they extended their lead with a rather unusual goal from Mahesh. Sahal Abdul Samad provided an excellent assist to Chhetri, who skillfully maneuvered before firing a left-footed shot. The attempt took a deflection off goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu, hit the crossbar twice, and ultimately fell to Mahesh, who tapped it in from close range.
With the victory over Nepal, India secured their place in the semi-finals of the SAFF Championships. Earlier in the day, Kuwait defeated Pakistan 4-0, ensuring their qualification alongside India from Group A. On the other hand, Nepal, finalists in the previous edition, were eliminated from the tournament.
The Indian team underwent significant changes from their opening match against Pakistan, with eight alterations made to the lineup. Only Chhetri, Anirudh Thapa, and Sahal Abdul Samad retained their positions in the starting eleven from the previous match. Rahul Bheke, making his first start of the tournament, featured in the completely revamped defense.
While the match witnessed a moment of celebration with Chhetri’s record-breaking goal, the subsequent brawl marred the spirit of the game. Such incidents serve as a reminder of the intense rivalries that can emerge on the football field, reflecting the passion and competitiveness displayed by players representing their respective nations.
As the SAFF Championships progress, teams will undoubtedly be eager to maintain discipline and focus on showcasing their skills, while fans hope to witness thrilling matches defined by fair play and sportsmanship.
Sources By Agencies