Millennium Post

Robin sparkles in India’s 2-0 win over Sri Lanka in SAFF Cup

Robin Singh’s post break brace enabled a dominant India to begin their South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup campaign with a 2-0 win against Sri Lanka here on Friday.

Robin broke the deadlock on 51 minutes and then extended the advantage 22 minutes later. It was the second consecutive match in which the burly striker scored for the national colours after a match-winning goal against Guam in a 2018 World Cup qualifier on November 12.

Sri Lanka beat Nepal 1-0 in the opening game of the tournament on Wednesday but was evidently inferior against the home side at the Trivandrum International Stadium.

Coach Stephen Constantine opted for a cautious 5-4-1 formation against a team ranked 28 places behind them in the 166th-ranked India, naming Robin Singh the lone striker. He pegged back forward Jeje Lalpekhlua, impressive for Chennaiyin FC’s trophy-lifting Indian Super League (ISL) campaign, to the midfield and winger Sanju Pradhan as a right back.

But it didn’t stifle India’s initial attacks, which primarily arose from the right flank where Sanju pushed up confidently.

The hosts steadily increased their supremacy on the ball with predominance on crosses from the right wing. One such cross found an unmarked Sunil Chhetri. But his header from an acute angle was blocked out by goalkeeper Sujan Perera in the fifth minute. But the first realistic chance was created in the 10th by India’s “Player of the Year” Eugeneson Lyngdoh whose intelligent overhead ball exposed a big gap between the two Sri Lankan central defenders and Perera. It allowed Jeje to run past the two defenders and be in a one-on-one position with the goalkeeper. But his attempted scoop lacked finesse and rammed into the onrushing Perera.
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