A draw between the two other teams means India only need a point against the Caribbean outfit on Thursday to win the competition…
St. Kitts and Nevis kicked off their campaign against Mauritius who were playing their second match of the Hero Tri-nation series. St Kitts and Nevis chose a more offensive formation of 3-5-2 while Mauritius chose to have a solo striker in the form of Jean Justin. The match plays a crucial role in understanding the opposition which India will face in the form of St Kitts and Nevis.
The match began on a very dull note as hardly any crowd was visible and most of them were school kids. But the school kids did cheer every opportunity that along the same way of either team. The first real chance of the game came for the men in red from the Caribbean in the third minute of the game where the goalkeeper nearly bundled the cross from Bertie Carlos of the St. Kitts and Nevis team and nearly allowed a goal just to be defended in the box by an alert Mauritian defence.
The barrage followed on the Mauritian team but they soon came into their own and got a hold of the game led by their defender Pascal Damien Balisson who crossed in excellent balls to make plenty of chances. This then led to a wonderful header in the 19th minute by Jean Frederic Sarah who had drifted into open space leaving only air in between him and an open net to score a comfortable goal.
The Mauritian midfield held out and continued pressing the St. Kitts and Nevis barely got any chances but the ones that they got they tried their best to score. Drawing in many fouls and resulting in a 38th-minute yellow card for Mauritius’ Maminiana Francis for a rash tackle from behind. St Kitts didn’t do a great deal with the opportunities provided to them. Making weak crosses and wasting free-kicks from promising positions, they lost out on many opportunities in front of a weak looking goalkeeper.
Mauritius also decided to slow the game down and making a very few chances and holding on comfortably to the lead attained in the 19th minute but did make a few adventurous runs which allowed them to gain 3 crosses after the goal. The referee blew the whistle at half-time with just a minute added and Mauritius leaving the field confident.
St. Kitts and Nevis wanting to change their game made two substitutions introducing more teeth in attack with Amory Gvaune making way for Nelson Vinceroy alongside Mitchum Yohannes taking the place of Leader Joash. This immediately paid dividends as the Central American team made many more forays in the attack. Their No. 8, Hanley Tiran came very close to scoring in the 2nd minute of the second half on a well-weighted cross made by Williams Gerard.
Mauritius then stepped back on the gas and took control of the match leading to a very good curled shot taken by previous matches’ goal-scorer Jocelyn only to be denied by an excellent save by Jeffers Jamal who dived across the face of goal to palm it away. Following this Mauritius made another change introducing midfield enforcer Louis Guiyano for Joseph Kevin.
Mauritius was now on cruise-mode and the match continued with ease for them apart from one moment of excellence where the St. Kitts and Nevis team put a wonderful through ball which led to a very strong chance for the number 10 Rogers Kimaree, but only to be denied by an excellent charge by Mauritius shot stopper James Caserene.
Mauritius had a flurry of more chances but nothing concrete came of it. Even an excellent chance in front of an open goal with only the keeper to beat was shot wide by substitute Louis. The big attraction of the second had was the St. Kitts and Nevis charging down the right flank to put an excellent ball over head but the striker couldn’t hold on to it. Goal scorer Jean Frederic Sarah again latched on to the ball only to be denied this time by the fingertips of Jeffers Jamal.
As the match looked like it was going to lull the kids in the audience to sleep, Rogers Kimaree produced a Robin Singh repeat by latching on to the through ball from Tiran in the 85th minute bringing the match to a stalemate situation. Both teams then tried to score the winner and Mauritius even came close in the dying minutes but only to be denied by a defensive strength of St. Kitts and Nevis.
St. Kitts and Nevis held a more composed looking Mauritius team and would be confident enough to face India on Thursday and try to break their winning streak.