Unlocking Sri Lanka
Friday, April 27, 2012 - 17:51
As their national team left Colombo yesterday to play two matches in Malaysia — mainly the Malaya Tigers tomorrow (kick off 8.45pm) and followed by Selangor on Monday — the players are not familiar names in this region.
Still, that has not stopped national coach Datuk K. Rajagobal from aiming big. He wants nothing less than a win against the Islanders.
Even national hitman Safee Sali is eager to score against the visitors.
“We need to win and score as many goals possible. We need to work as a unit to achieve this,” said Safee.
The Sri Lanka team are preparing for the Al-Nakba Football Tournament in Palestine on May 13-24. Among the other participating countries are Jordan, Iraq, Tunisia, Pakistan and Vietnam.
Malaysia have played Sri Lanka six times, starting from the Merdeka Tournament in 1972.
Malaysia won five of those encounters impressively but in 2007, the national team, coached by Norizan Bakar, suffered a 2-1 defeat in Colombo despite having edged the Sri Lankans 4-1 a couple of days earlier.
Sri Lanka consist a blend of experienced and young players. Seasoned striker E.B. Channa is the skipper, a fresh start after he was suspected of being involved in matchfixing.
Channa and four other Sri Lankan star players — Kasun Jayasuriya, Shathis Kumar, Viraj Asanka and Maduska Piries - were suspended in 2010 for allegedly fixing matches. However, Channa, Asanka and Piries were later cleared of the allegations.
Sri Lanka will bank on the likes of Mohamed Raumy, M. Issadeen and Bandara Warakagoda to trouble the hosts.
The matches will also give Sri Lanka coach K.M. Sampath Perera an opportunity to find the right tactics.
In fact, Sri Lanka are eager to beef up the squad after Sports Minister Hussain Shareef held talks with their national body recently over the possibility of hosting the SAFF tournament together with Maldives. Both nations co-organised the tournament in 2008.
Sri Lanka team: Goalkeepers — H.M. Ajith Kumara, W.S. Sujan Perera
Defenders — W. Rohana Ruwantilleke, Dimudu Hettiarachchi, A.G. Eranda Prasad, Lahiru Tharaka Silva, H. Peter Charles, Bandara Warakagoda, K.N. Harshana Fernando
Midfielders — Rawmi Mohideen, W.H. Chatura Gunaratne, D. Anton Nimal, M. Sanoj Sameera Perera, M.N.M. Issadeen, A. Manjula Prasanna, Mohammed Sameer, F.B. Chaturanga Fernando, L.H. Kavindu Ishan, A.L. Mohammed Aleem
Forwards: E.B. Channa (Capt), L.A. Nipuna Devindu Bandara, Chaturanga Sanjeewa