Gampola Zahira College pulled off a 4-2 upset against Royal College in the Group A fixture of ThePapare Football Championship 2018 at the Royal College School Grounds.
Royal kicked off with a bold attempt at goal that almost caught Gampola Zahira’s keeper Mohamed Riflan off guard but he recovered in time to make the save, as Royal made their intentions clear from the start.
The lads from Gampola looked confident on the ball early on as they stringed together some good passes, attempting to mount attacks.
Ginthota Zahira College shocked favourites St. Peter’s College, Colombo with a 2-0..
Not too soon later, it paid off in the 11th minute when Mohamed Rifas got the ball on the edge of the opposition box and what seemed to be an attempted cross, caught the Royal keeper who was not the first choice keeper, with Royals main number 1 out injured, was caught off his line as the ball looped over and found the back of the net.
Zahira’s Rifas almost doubled his tally as he broke through the Royal defense but his strike went just wide of the target. Gampola Zahira’s early goal had stunned Royal as the Gampola boys were mounting attack after attack despite being ahead.
Royal were handed a lifeline in the 16th minute when the referee judged Zahira’s Mohamed Ilham of handling the ball inside his own box and pointed straight to the spot. Royal’s U18 skipper Tishan Prabudda stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way and scored into the bottom left to equalize.
The glee of equalizing did not last long for Royal when Zahira’s Rifas popped up yet again this time with an absolutely stunning strike from the middle of the opposition half, and with Royal’s keeper caught off his line yet again, could not do anything as the ball dipped just under the crossbar giving Rifas his second goal.
The 28th minute saw another penalty in an action packed half, once again thanks to a handball this time by a Royal defender inside his own box, resulting in a penalty to Zahira. Mohamed Ifam stepped up and coolly slotted it perfectly into the bottom right, and despite the keeper diving the right way, he could not make the save.
Half Time: Royal College 1 – 3 Gampola Zahira College
Zahira kicked off the second half exactly like Royal did the first, with an effort on goal, the Zahirians confidence after a dominating first half clearly on display.
After a dull opening 15 minutes to the second half, Royal got the first big chance of the half when a over the top ball was struck into the Zahira box and Tishan met it with a diving header, but keeper Mujahid reacted well and made the save.
Zahira College, Colombo and Mahajana College, Jaffna played out a pulsating..
Zahira responded with a chance of their own when they broke into the Royal box and took an effort that went just wide of the post.
Royal pulled one back when TIshan struck a brilliant through-ball into the opposition box which Luckman struck into the back of the net.
The boys from Gampola seemed to have awoken following the goal at their end as less than 2 minutes after conceding, Basith Ahmed struck the ball brilliantly on the run easily beating the keeper with a stunning strike.
Full Time: Royal College 2 – 4 Gampola Zahira College
ThePapare.com spoke to both coaches following the match with Royal Head Coach Mohamed Roomy saying, “Our boys played a good game. After going down 1-0, they showed their fight back and did what they could and I am very happy with this performance.”
Gampola Zahira’s head coach happily stated, “I am very happy with the performance today. When I took over this team, football standards were low in the school. So I am attempting to increase the exposure of this team while bringing results. I won’t say my team is good as we may win today and lose tomorrow, but that is not my goal. I just want everyone watching to see that Gampola Zahira can play good football.”
ThePapare.com Player of the Match – Mohamed Rifas (Gampola Zahira College)
Royal College – Tishan Prabudda 16, Luckman 67’
Gampola Zahira College – Mohamed Rifas 07’ & 21’, Mohamed Ifam 28, Basith Ahmed 69’