INDIA 2 (Robin Singh 37', Balwant Singh 62')
Mauritius 1 (Mervyn Jocelyn 15')
By Shoubhik Mukhopadhyay,
AIFF Media Team
MUMBAI: India came back from behind to register their eighth official win in International Football when they made short work of Mauritius 2-1 in the opening match of the Hero Tri-nation International Football series at the Mumbai Football Arena tonight (August 19, 2017).
The victory set a record in Indian Football as this is the first time ever that an Indian National Team have won eight official matches on the trot.
Meanwhile, it was India's 14th win in their last 16 matches in the International Arena when local lad Nikhil Poojary, Amrinder Singh and Manvir Singh were handed their international debuts for the Senior National Team marking a red-letter day in their football career.
The visitors stunned the Indian defenders in the 15th minute when Jocelyn volleyed it from the inside of the box to breach the Indian defence line.
Indians, in an effort to make a comeback, restored parity in the 37th minute when Robin Singh converted a terrific defence-scathing pass from Rowllin Borges. Robin collected the ball inside the box and calmly slotted in to cancel the visitors' early lead, as both teams went into the changing room with level pegging.
National Coach Stephen Constantine made three changes at the half-time, two of which were debuts -- Nikhil Poojary and Amrinder Singh coming in to replace Jackichand Singh and Subrata Paul respectively. Balwant Singh also came in for goalscorer Robin Singh and felt best to take his name into the score sheet.
The Almighty had written a different script for the Punjab-born striker who went onto score his first goal in the National Colour just after the hour-mark in his second outing for the Senior National Team.
Eugeneson Lyngdoh lofted a juicy delivery to Jeje Lalpekhula who flicked it wisely to Balwant who took all his time to tap it home to snatch a late lead in the 62nd minute.
Rafique, who replaced Eugenson Lyngdoh who created another gullible opportunity for scoring but Halicharan Narzary blasted it onto the perimeter boards.
Another debut was handed by the gaffer as U-23 striker Manvir Singh replaced AIFF Player of the Year Jeje Lalpekhlua three minutes to the end of the regulation time.
On his first touch itself, the lanky youngster could have found the target but his looping delivery landed over the net to leave the crowd aghast. But it didn’t matter much.
Mauritius are scheduled to lock their horns with St. Kitts & Nevis at the same venue on August 22, 2017 while India will clash against St. Kitts & Nevis two days later.
India: Subrata Paul (Amrinder Singh 46'), Sandesh Jhingan (C), Anas Edathodika, Pritam Kotal, Narayan Das, Eugeneson Lyngdoh (Md. Rafique 74'), Halicharan Narzary (Jerry Lalrinzuala 85'), Jackichand Singh (Nikhil Poojary 46'), Rowllin Borges, Jeje Lalpekhlua (Manvir Singh 87'), Robin Singh 37' (Balwant Singh 46' 62')