Tri-Nation Series: India 1-1 Saint Kitts and Nevis - Blue Tigers lift trophy despite stuttering draw
Stephen Constantine's men failed to make it ten wins out of ten but still emerged as champions of the international triangular series in Mumbai...

Hosts India emerged as the champions of the 2017 Tri-Nation Series after they drew 1-1 with Saint Kitts and Nevis  at the Mumbai Football Arena on Thursday.

The Blue Tigers took the lead through Jackichand Singh (38') but failed to keep the scoreline in their favour after second-half substitute G'Vaune Amory (72') equalised for the Caribbean side.

Familiar faces greeted the Indian starting eleven as Stephen Constantine handed Balwant Singh a start over Robin Singh - replacing one goal scorer for another from last weekend's game against Mauritius. Amrinder Singh, who played the second half did not feature on the bench as well as India only made the solitary change to their lineup.

Jacques Passy, on the other hand, made four alterations from their 1-1 draw against Mauritius. Clyde Mitcham, Yohannes Mitchum, Tishan Hanley and Vinceroy Nelson, all of whom impressed in the 2nd half were preferred as Vidal Hendrickson, Tiran Hanley, G'Vaune Amory and Carlos Bertie were benched.

The hosts started with much more enterprise than they did against Mauritius but were wasteful on the final third. Balwant Singh provided early hopes but his header flew over the bar from a Halicharan Narzary cross in the 20th minute.

India won a flurry of corners just prior to the half hour mark but none yielded any result. In the 27th minute, Narayan Das took aim for a poorly taken corner but Jeffers parried it away. Jeje Lalpekhlua nudged the loose ball across the face of the goal for Balwant Singh but the Mumbai City FC forward was flagged offside after the ball bulged into the net.

However, the goal did come as Jackichand Singh brought up his second international goal for the senior side. It was Rowllin Borges, yet again who initiated the move and drifted close to the touchline to spew in a cross into the box.

The shortest man on the field popped up between acres of space left by defenders Gerard Williams and Clyde Mitcham to head in a looping delivery that Jamal Jeffers could not get any fingers on.

Jeje tried to double the lead in the closing moments of the first period but the Kittitian custodian saw it safely as Stephen Constantine went into the break with a smile on his face.

Robin Singh was introduced for Balwant at half time and the Noida-born striker was in the mix shortly as he failed to convert from a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper rushing off his line to block his shot from 20 yards out.

Pritam Kotal's one-two with Jeje inside the box failed to pay dividends as his atrocious first touch meant his shot went wide off the target. Mohammed Rafique and Nikhil Poojary were also brought in around the hour mark.

Subrata Paul was called into action twice as Carlos Bertie tested the veteran from an angled shot. However, it was a corner which resulted in the equaliser for the Sugar Boyz.

Kevin Benjamin's corner was headed forward by Tiran Hanley and G'Vaune Amory chipped in the ball past a hapless Paul. 

Anirudh Thapa was the latest player to be handed an India senior cap by Stephen Constantine for the last ten minutes. As soon as Rowllin Borges was ushered off the field, the organisation of the midfield and defense went for a toss. The pace of Thapa and Poojary proved to be futile as Robin Singh was yet again iffy in the final third.

The draw meant India finished with four points from their two games with Saint Kitts & Nevis finishing as the runners-up with two. Mauritius registered a solitary point with their 1-2 loss to India and a 1-1 draw with the Sugar Boyz.

It was the first time that India had not won a match since June 2016 but still remain unbeaten in the last ten games. Their next fixture is a 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifier against Macau away from home on 5 September.

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