In the 8th Annual Northern Provincial Sports Festival organized by Department of Sports of Northern Province, Jaffna District claimed the football championship following their hard fought penalty shootout win against Mannar District in the final held at Jaffna Duraiyappa Stadium.
On the final day of the events, thousands of spectators gathered to watch the highly anticipated final between Jaffna and Mannar districts. Previous records of the event favoured the visitors as Mannar had entered the final in all previous seven editions of the event and claimed the championship five times. On the other hand, Jaffna got the better of Mannar only once before, that too was decided on penalties.
Despite having many reputed clubs, talented players and numerous inner district tournaments, Jaffna has continuously failed to impress in the provincial level and has been often criticized for lack of commitment and understanding on the pitch during the previous editions.
Mannar has showed great preparation and focus throughout the years and considered this tournament as one of the finest in their calendar.
As we run down the years,
- 2009 – Jaffna 0-1 Mannar
- 2010 – Jaffna 0-4 Mannar
- 2011 – Jaffna 0-4 Mannar
- 2013 – Jaffna 1-1 Mannar
- 2014 – Jaffna 1-1 Mannar
- 2015 – Jaffna 2-2 Mannar
- 2016 – Jaffna 0-1 Mannar
Since most of the famous stars of the Northern Province occupied the field from both sides for 90 minutes, the spectators gave a massive support to them. The speed of the game was electric from the first minute on.
Mannar started the game very strong and created a lot of spaces between the center and defensive lines of Jaffna but no clear cut chances were created. Jaffna showed composure as they slowly grew into the game and created space in the opposite end but their efforts were also well read and stopped. However, in the 44th minute, Thaasan from Mannar tried a long range effort and the ball, to the surprise of every witness in the stadium, went in.
Half Time – Jaffna District 0 – 1 Mannar District
Jaffna adapted to the opponent’s game and changed their tactics in the second half. They improved their passing and movement in the second half but the quest for the equalizer was kept at bay by the committed defensive work of Mannar players.
In the 87th minute, Premkumar won a penalty for Jaffna after being fouled inside the box. Calistran made no mistake in the conversion and the score was equalized. Shocked by the late equalizer, Mannar didn’t collect themselves together to immediately response.
Full Time – Jaffna District 1 – 1 Mannar District
The referee directed the match towards the penalty shootout. Jaffna beat Mannar in the decisive 7th penalty and won the shootout 6-5. Jaffna became the champions of Northern Province for the 2nd time in their 8th final appearance.