The Dialog Champions League 2016, Sri Lanka’s top flight football competition is set to kick off this weekend, featuring the top 18 teams in the country split into two groups.
Each group will feature 9 teams, who will play each other once, with the top 4 of each group qualifying to participate in the Super 8 stage of the tournament.
In this feature we preview the teams that have been drawn into Group B for 2016 DCL.
Air Force SC
The Airmen will be a force to be reckoned with in a group packed to the brim with talent.
Having finished 4th in the Super 8 last season, they will be keen to build on their strong showing last year.
They will rely heavily on their forwards Nipuna Bandara and Kavindu Ishan in addition to Dilshan Fernando in the centre of their defence while the return of their shroud tactician Sampath Perera as head coach will bolster their chances.
Java Lane SC
Java Lane qualified in 3rd place from Group B for the Super 8 stage last year, where they were outclassed by nearly everyone and ended at the bottom of the pile.
This year they have some great young talent in the form of Rizkhan Faizer, Afam Akram and Naveen Jude who are likely to shoulder more responsibility throughout the season in order to push for qualification, from what will likely be a tough group for them.
Navy SC were another team that qualified for the Super 8 stage last year after finishing 4th in group B where they ended up 6th after a campaign plagued by injuries.
Navy possess a very experienced line-up featuring players who have represented the national team and it will be the likes of Nalaka Roshan, Chathuranga Sanjeewa, Chalana Chameera and Peter Charls who they will depend on if they are to make it to the Super 8s.
New Youngs SC
The team from Wennappuwa narrowly missed out on Super 8 qualification from Group B last year after thrashing Navy 5-0 in their final match.
New Youngs will push for qualification this year as well with them probably fancying their chances of upsetting the likes of Saunders, Java Lane and Super Sun.
Key players for them this season will be Ankamah George and Mohomed Mushikan.
Police SC ended up mid table in Group A in the 2015 edition, starting off their campaign with a stunning 4-3 win over Solid.
Unfortunately they could not maintain the same caliber of performances throughout and registered only two more wins in their campaign. However they do have the capacity to upset bigger teams and will enjoy the challenge of this group.
Runners Up in the 2015 Dialog Champions League and Runners Up in the 2016 FA Cup, Renown will be itching to get their hands on some silverware.
A team that plays some of the best football in the local circuit, they will be relying heavily on their star studded midfield consisting of Fazul Rahuman, Mohomed Rizni, Mohomed Rifnaz and Mohomed Fazal.
They are the favourites to top the group in qualification for the Super 8.
Saunders failed to progress past the group stage in last year’s competition having finished 5th in Group A after a horror start, where they failed to score in their first 5 games.
This year however, they proved to be a well drilled team in their FA Cup campaign, keeping 4 clean sheets whilst also constantly creating chances at the opposite end.
They will rely on the likes of the young Suntharaj Niresh, and Rashik Rishad along with Traore Mohomed, Sanoj Sameera and Krishantha Abeysekera to get them through to the Super 8s.
Super Sun SC
Much was expected from the Beruwala based club in the 2015 season, but they failed to deliver, ending up in 7th place in Group B despite a promising start to the campaign.
They suffered a shock defeat against Hilary SC in the FA Cup and would be looking to bounce back in this year’s edition of the Dialog Champions League.
Boasting big names such as Thilina Bandara and Chathura Gunaratne, they can be a dangerous team in this group.
Thihariya Youth SC
Their only win of last season came after New Youngs were disqualified for playing an ineligible player in that fixture. All in all it is likely to be a very tough season ahead for Thihariya and look almost certain relegation candidates in this group.
Renown are the clear cut favourites to top the group, but the remaining 3 spots will be keenly contested. Air Force, Navy, Java Lane, New Youngs, Saunders and Super Sun all have the quality needed to progress from what seems to be a cracker of a group.
At the other end Thihariya Youth have a very tough task of trying to stay up in the top flight with no easy games on their fixture list.
Renown vs Saunders (Week 1)
Navy vs Air Force (Week 7)
New Youngs vs Java Lane (Week 7)