India began their quest for an eighth title at the SAFF Championships with a comfortable 2-0 win over Sri Lanka in their Group B opener in Dhaka. The goals came from India’s two wingers – Ashique Kuruniyan and Lallianzuala Chhangte. Kuruniyan opened the scoring in the 34th minute after a lovely overhead pass enabled him to burst through behind the Lankan defence from the right flank and he rifled a low shot into the corner past the Sri Lankan custodian, his first ever senior goal in national colours. The second came just a few minutes after the restart as the left winger, Chhangte, went to work, getting at the Sri Lankan defenders and with a touch of good fortune looping the ball over the head of Sujan Perera in goal.
India have the youngest squad at this tournament, with only one player older than 23 in the setup. The new-look team led by Subhasish Bose were in control of this match throughout. Though it may not reflect in the scoreline, the Indians weren’t troubled much by their southern neighbours in this encounter and could have had more goals to their name with some better finishing. Sri Lanka were playing just their fifth international match in 32 months and the lack of experience showed in the number of errors that crept into their game.