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India win Tri-nation football series after draw with St Kitts & Nevis

India drew 1-1 with St Kitts and Nevis to win the Tri-nation football series. Jackichand Singh scored the only goal for India in the 38th minute

football Updated: Aug 24, 2017 23:19 IST
Bihan Sengupta
Bihan Sengupta
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Indian Football team,St Kitts & Nevis football team,Tri-nation football series
The Indian football team after winning the Tri-nation football series.(AIFF)

There were two sets of enthusiasts outside the Andheri Sports Complex on Thursday — one chanting Maa Tujhe Salaam and Vande Mataram to cheer their national team that had just lifted the tri-nation trophy, while the other singing and dancing to Ganpati Bappa Morya. The festive fervour was already there; what added to it was perhaps the trophy Sandesh Jhingan and Co earned after holding on to a draw against St Kitts and Nevis in the tri-nation tournament.

Keeping in tune with their coach’s demand for quick starts, India approached the game with aggression while keeping their defence tight.

READ | AIFF’s multi-million splurge on tri-nation football series defies logic

While St Kitts struggled to breach the box and test Subrata Paul under the bar, India kept piling on the pressure on a defence that had conceded 11 goals in their past five matches.

From crosses down the wings to one-touch passes, it was a better show from the men-in-blue than their inaugural game against Mauritius. Their first real chance came in the 20th minute, with Balwant Singh neatly meeting a Halicharan Narzary cross from the left flank. Although it didn’t prove fruitful, it was the start of better things to come with a regular supply of crosses.

However, what punched holes in the opposition defence were the one-touch passes to Jeje and Balwant upfront.

READ | Chennai out, tri-nation football series venue switch burns hole in AIFF’s pocket

India came close to taking the lead in the 27th minute when Balwant sent the ball into the back of the net but Jeje was found offside while receiving the ball after Narayan Das’ initial shot ricocheted off the post.

The hosts finally drew blood through Jackichand Singh, the Manipuri scoring with a clinical header in the 37th minute off a cross from Rowlin Borges. It was a stellar finish from Jackichand who glanced the ball in exquisite fashion to help his side go into the lemon break with a goal in front.

Indian footballers celebrate after defeating St Kitts and Nevis. (AIFF)

Constantine made one change at the break, replacing Balwant Singh with Robin Singh upfront but the latter looked lacklustre throughout the game.

READ | Jackichand Singh says tri-nation series preparation for Asian Cup qualifier

India started the second half brightly but a number of chances went abegging and the attacking flair dipped as the game progressed. While the build-up play looked good, the wayward finishing upset the momentum. St Kitts equalised in the 72nd minute with Amory Gvaune neatly connecting a volley to replicate their show against Mauritius. Gvaune found himself unmarked, but it still required a terrific finish to beat custodian Subrata Paul.

Despite the missed chances, India managed to hold on to a draw. And perhaps, the main reason for the same was skipper Sandesh Jhingan. The 24-year-old was a rock at the back, keeping the opposition at bay with well-timed tackles and interceptions. India came close to finishing off the game in the dying moments of the game, but Robin Singh’s shot came off the post.

The draw, though, ended India’s streak of nine wins on the trot.

First Published: Aug 24, 2017 23:14 IST