Mumbai: India extended their winning streak to eight matches on the trot, with a 2-1 victory over Mauritius in the opening game of the Tri-Nation Cup, at the Mumbai Football Arena, on Saturday.
Robin Singh and Balwant Singh were the stars of the show, as they helped India come from behind to notch up a the victory, which has tentatively put them on the top of the standings in the Tri-Nation Cup.
India started off with a high tempo pressing game. Both Robin Singh and Jeje Lalpekhlua closed the Mauritius defenders down quickly. However, the Mauritians passed the ball smoothly through the Indian midfield.
Their good passage of play soon paid it's dividend as India centreback Anas Edathodika, under pressure, got a bad touch onto a bobbling cross inside the box, and got a poor touch onto the ball. Mauritius midfielder Jean Mervyn Jocelyn lathed onto the loose ball just inside the box and slotted the ball into the bottom corner, to put the visitors ahead.
This completely changed the momentum of the game as the Mauritians began running circles around the Indian defenders. However, the visitors’ joy was short-lived as India kept looking for a way through.
They finally found a breakthrough on the 37th minute. Robin Singh picked up a loose ball inside the opposition half and immediately played it back to Rowllin Borges and darted off towards the box. Seeing this, Rowllin immediately played the ball through to Robin again, as the striker found himself through on goal. The Bengaluru FC striker calmly slotted the ball into the net, to level the scores.
The equaliser completely changed the tempo of the game, as the Indians came back out onto the field with renewed enthusiasm.
Robin was replaced by Balwant, who, like the man he replaced, chased all the lost causes when the Mauritians had the ball.
His off the ball running soon reaped the rewards for him, when flicked a long ball by Eugeneson Lyngdoh over a defender’s head, and onto Balwant’s path. 30-year-old finished it off in style, to put the Indians ahead on the 62nd minute.
With less than half an hour to go, Mauritius threw the proverbial 'kitchen sink’ at the Indian goal, but substitute goalkeeper Amrinder Singh held through.
The Indians did get a few chances on the break, as the Mauritians surged forward in attack. However, they were not clinical enough to put those chances away.
India head coach Stephen Constantine, thus created history, as he became the first gaffer to win eight international matches on the trot. In his own inimitable style, however, Constantine waved off all talks of this record: “It all counts for nothing, if we don't qualify for the (2019 AFC) Asian Cup.”...