Thiruvananthpuram :Already through to the semifinals, Afghanistan thrashed Maldives 4-1 to top their group and remain on course for their second consecutive title in the South Asian Football Federation Cup.
India, who topped Group A, now play Maldives in the semifinals on December 31 while Group B winners Afghanistan take on Sri Lanka—who finished runners-up in Group A—in the other semifinals on the same day.
The final will be played on January 3.
Omid Popalzay (34th and 54th) struck twice while Faysal Shayesteh (20th) and Ahmad Hatifie (51st) scored once each in a dominating display for Afghanistan while Ali Fasir (32nd) pulled one back for Maldives at the Greenfield Stadium as Kariavattom.
This was Afghanistan’s first ever win over Maldives. Both sides had already made it to the semifinals before today’s last group fixture after winning both their earlier matches. After winning today’s match, Afghanistan topped Group B with an all-win record and nine points while Maldives finished second in the group with six points from two wins.
Afghanistan are the highest ranked side in the tournament at 150th while Maldives are the second highest at 160th.
In an inconsequential match played earlier in the day, Bangladesh beat a 10-man Bhutan 3-0.
Mohd. Rony struck twice (24th and 67th), his first goal being from a penalty, after Topu Burman had give Bangladesh the lead in the eighth minute.
Rony earned the penalty after he was brought down inside the Bhutan box in the 24th minute and he himself stepped up to convert it.
Chimi Dorji was sent off despite the foul was committed on Rony by another Bhutan player.
Bangladesh ended at third in the group with three points, after losing to both Maldives and Afghanistan while a winless Bhutan took the bottom spot without opening their account.