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Waseem’s stunning performance guides SL to final

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‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Trophy’ Four Nation Invitation soccer:
Sri Lanka striker Waseem Razeek (13) and a Bangladeshi player vie for the ball. Picture by Sulochana Gamage

Waseem Razeek put up another stunning performance to sail his team to the grand finale with a 2-1 victory over Bangladesh in their four nations inaugural international invitation soccer tournament for the ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa Trophy’ at Race Course grounds under lights, yesterday.

A goal in each half, including a penalty kick in the late stages of the game by Razeek, saw Sri Lanka secure a berth in the final against Seychelles this Friday.

Both teams took to the field with high expectations of qualifying for the final. Bangladesh needed only a draw to see them to the final, while for Sri Lanka, it was a must-win game after their recent defeat against Seychelles.

From the start, the game was played at an intensive pace, but the hosts used the home advantage and the support of the fans to exert pressure on their rivals. They had a couple of chances of scoring, but the strikers failed to put the finishing touches.

In the 24th minute of the game, Razeek, the highest goal-scorer of the tournament, came to the limelight. With his nippy skills, he collected the rebound and chipped a left-footed kick to deceive the Bangladeshi goalie Rahuman to score a spectacular goal. From there, the game took a different phase, as the Lankans lost two key strikers – Kavindu Ishan and Dillon de Silva – who were both stretchered off the field after sustaining leg injuries.

Ten minutes later, the Bangali Tigers came closer to equalising through a well-measured corner kick, which a midfield player booted towards goal which Duckson Puslas deliberately used his hand to block the kick. As a result, referee Al Shammari gave him the marching orders with a red card. Skipper Topu Barman missed a straightforward penalty kick, which went off-target, saving the Lankans who were in at halftime, leading 1-0.

After the turnaround, in the 71st minute of the game, Jewel Rana scored the equaliser to bounce back to the game. The Lankan team made amends trying to score another goal, and were finally rewarded with a penalty, which Waseem was on target to earn the ‘Man of the Match’ title.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021 – 01:00

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