Sri Lanka out to break 21-year hoodoo
Skipper Sujan Perera and his charges will be determined to re-write football history when they go all out to notch up a win against Seychelles in the final of the ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Trophy’ at the Race Grounds today under lights. Kick-off is scheduled for 7.00 p.m.
The Sri Lankans will be out to break the 21-year hoodoo, as they last won a championship in 2000 in Maldives, by winning the Independent Cup.
This tournament has so far been a tough passage for the Lankan Lions, where they were able to notch up only a single win – in their decider against Bangladesh few days back – while losing to Seychelles 1-0 and forcing a 4-all draw against the Maldives in a closely contested tournamnet opener.
Two individuals stood out as a tower of strength for Sri Lanka – skipper Sujan Perera and striker Waseem Razeek. Sujan played a pivotal role not only as a skipper but saving many goal scoring opportunities with his acrobatic performance. Even though Waseem Razeek was adjudged the ‘Man of the Match’ against Bangladesh, it was Sujan who was the match winner with his brilliant performance between the posts, foiling several scoring moves initiated by the rivals including that straight forward penalty which went off target, after he mesmerized the rival player. He was instrumental in rallying his boys to hold their nerve and not lose their morale until the final whistle under tough playing conditions.
Waseem, the highest goal scorer of the tournament, is the other player who was a pillar of strength for the team. He strove hard, hunting for space to find inroads and sneak through the rival defense, at which he was quite successful. Nevertheless, the past is past and the Lankans will be striving hard to score a memorable win today and annex this all-important title that is on offer on home soil.
The Lankan team will be sans two of their key players – strikers Dillion de Silva and Kavindu Ishan – who both sustained leg injuries in the Bangladesh match. After an MRI scan, it was confirmed both of them have sustained ACL damage in their knee and will have to undergo surgery, followed by a rehabilitation process which might take a minimum of six months for recovery.
Apart from these two, the rest of the team look fit and are fully focused to win the game and clinch this inaugural Championship. “We are in a very strong temperament for this big game. We promised Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa that we will win this Championship. The boys very are much focused and will go all out to win it.
“We know that we will miss the services of two Dillon and Kavindu, who have done an immense service for the team. We pray for their speedy recovery. However, I am pretty confident and optimistic the rest of the boys will give their best to snatch this inaugural Championship and make the country proud,” said skipper Sujan Perera.
On the other hand, Seychelles cannot be underrated. They were capable of ousting top ranked Maldives, which was a commendable performance. Overall, a close tussle is expected.
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa will grace the occasion as chief guest, while FIFA President Gianni Infantino will grace the occasion as a special guest.
|Sri Lanka team