New Delhi: Seeking to win their first tournament post the Bhaichung Bhutia era, the in-form Sunil Chhetri will be the cynosure of all eyes as India prepare to take on surprise package Afghanistan in the final of the SAFF Championship here on Sunday.
While five-time defending champions India will look to extend their domination in the regional tournament, Afghanistan will be out to prove that their successful run to the title clash was not a flash in the pan.
India were undoubtedly the better of the two sides in their last-four clash with Maldives and deserved the 3-1 verdict, while the Afghans will be coming off an ill-tempered semifinal match against Nepal.
Afghanistan managed to outslug the opposition 1-0 after the match went into extra time, but it could have easily gone Nepal's way had it not been for poor finishing.
Moments after the humdinger against Nepal, coach Yousef Kargar said he has a plan up his sleeve, but to unsettle India, his two poachers, Belal Arezou and Senjar Ahmadi, will have to be at their striking best.
With six goals, Arezou is the tournament's leading scorer along with Chhetri. And the battle between Chhetri and Arezou will certainly form a fascinating sub plot at the beautiful Jawaharlal Nehru stadium here on Sunday.
The pint-sized dynamo from Delhi came out triumphant against Ali Ashfaq's Maldives yesterday scoring twice, and he will now look to recreate the magic he weaved in the AFC Challenge Cup final some three and a half years ago when his hat-trick took India to the Asian Cup after a gap of 24 years.
The only difference this time will be the venue - that AFC Challenge title clash, which rounded off a superb English August for India, was played at the Ambedkar Stadium, also known as the national team's fortress.