Airmen down Ugyen Academy in the President’s cup opener.

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Sri Lanka Air Force played their first match against the Ugyen Academy Football Club from Bhutan in the AFC President’s Cup qualifier.

President’s cup is played by the teams who were the domestic champions. Therefore Sri Lanka Air Force qualified to play the tournament. Football Federation of Sri Lanka organized this tournament on behalf of the Asian Football Confederation.

Match was kicked off at the Sugathadasa Stadium today evening. Air Force team trained under former Sri Lanka coach Sampath Perera and captained by Dilshan Fernando did not put up the performance many expected. The visiting team from Bhutan also did not perform well due to lack of experience and bad weather conditions. The pavilion was filled with a huge crowd who supported the Air Force squad.

Nipuna Bandara of Air Force scored in the second half as it was the only goal for the match which gave 3 points to the home team. The Air Force team had a better ball possession than the Ugyen Academy. In the first 10 minutes Ugyen Academy controlled the game. It took some time for the home team boys to settle down.  

Following a corner kick which was easily missed by the Academy strikers the Air Force team started attacking. Since then goal keeper Ruwan Prabath and the defense line barely touched the ball. None of the Bhutan defenders managed to stop the right winger and Sri Lanka U23 vice captain Kavidu Ishan. His speedy dribbling and his crosses were successful though the strikers did not finish the move with a goal.

Star player Mohammed Fazal who had switched sides from Renown for this season did not put his best game and got injured in the latter part of the first half. Though he got few chances to score opponent goal keeper Jamphel did not let him score. A freekick by Hashan Dharshaka from the right side of the pitch hit the top bar and the rebound was collected by the goal keeper.

Both the teams had no goals. Half time scores were 0-0.

From the start of the second half Airmen used every single chance to score. Ugyen Academy players did not have many chances to attack. Midfielders didn’t have much time to take the ball forward to play or score. Duminda came in for Fazal, switched places with Janaka Chaminda to take over the center half position. 

No.10 Kavidu Ishan crossed the ball to the top of the penalty box to striker Nipuna Bandara who

successfully slotted the ball into the net in the 59th minute. That goal movement was quick and none of the Bhutan defenders expected the cross. Goal keeper Jamphel tried to collect the cross but he did not have enough time to reach the ball. 

The Bhutan academy boys had almost given up the game. Strikers Nawang and Rabgay were the only players who did not stop fighting. Their shots were on target and perfect. A set play free kick shot by the left winger Biren Basnet was saved by the goal keeper RuwanPrabath.

Air Force defense line played a brilliant game by stopping the young Bhutanese before the ball reached the goal keeper. Air Force also had so many chances to score. The weather condition played a major role in the game as the ground was slippery and muddy. The final whistle was called and the match ended in favor of Sri Lanka Air Force with 1 goal to nil.

Speaking to the papare.com both the coaches from Air Force and Ugyen Academy were disappointed with the weather conditions and the ground conditions. Kinley Dorji coach of the Ugyen Academy was happy with his team’s performance though they lost the match as this was the first time they have played a match outside their country and he stated that his team boys were not experienced; they were players between 17-22 years old.

Air Force coach Sampath Perera was not happy with the performance but he said that the 3 points they got is valuable for them. It was not the best day for the Air Force team and he expects a much better game than this in the next match.

In the second match which was played under lights, KRL Football Club from Pakistan and Sheikh Russel K.C. Limited from Bangladesh drew nil all sharing the points.

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