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Thiruvananthapuram: Afghanistan booked their place in the semi-finals of the 2015/16 SAFF Championship with a 3-0 over Bhutan on Sunday as the defending champions won the second of their three Group B games.

Buoyed by a resounding 4-0 victory over Bangladesh in their tournament opener on Thursday, the Afghans eased to their second straight win at the Trivandrum International Stadium with a Khaibar Amani double and a Masih Saighani effort seeing the Afghans join the Maldives on six points, with the Indian Ocean islanders picking up their second win after defeating Bangladesh 3-1 in the earlier fixture.

Afghanistan needed just 15 minutes to score their fifth goal of the tournament when Noraollah Amiri fed the ball to Hassan Amin, whose cross into the box was slotted home by Amani before the title holders ensured they would take a two-goal cushion into the interval when Saighani headed home Kanschika Taher’s free-kick on the stroke of half-time.

The influence of Afghanistan’s Europe-based contingent continued when the Afghans scored their third goal of a match they dominated from the outset, with SC Hessen Dreieich striker Amani heading home his tournament-leading third of the campaign, with the 28-year-old knocked in a 53rd-minute cross from Noraollah Amiri, who plays his club football in Sweden with second-tier side Trelleborg.

The group phase of the competition concludes on Monday when the defending champions face the Maldives in a top-of-the-table decider, while Bhutan battle Bangladesh as both sides look to pick up their first points and exit the competition on a positive note.

Photo: Lagardère Sports

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