Sri Lanka were left to rue missed opportunities in the first half as Macau took a vital 1-0 win in the 1st leg of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 & AFC Asian Cup 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 match at the Zhuhai Sports Center Stadium.
Sri Lanka came into the 2nd friendly encounter against Laos….
Macau were forced to play the game at the Zhuhai Sports Center Stadium in neighbour Zhuhai due to ongoing refurbishment work at their regular Estadio Campo Desportivo home.
The Lankans went in with a 4-4-2 formation with Mohamed Aakib and Dilip Peiris upfront. Kavindu Ishan was a surprise inclusion in the starting XI after suffering a dislocated shoulder a week earlier.
The match started off with both sides showing good energy and looking positive. First chance of the game went for Sri Lanka.
A corner was blocked, and the rebound was volleyed across the goal only for an unmarked Mohamed Aakib to hit the upright. Immediately after Kavindu Ishan hit the side netting after a good run in the wing.
Sri Lanka dominated the first half in terms of possession and chances created, with the Macau goalkeeper Ho Man Fain being the busier of the two keepers. Sri Lankan lacked precision in the final third and did not hit the target as often.
Sri Lanka got four corners which they failed to utilize to good effect. Macau were only left to play with scraps and did not look threatening up until the 35th minute when they slightly stretched the Lankan defense.
Half Time – Macau 0 – 0 Sri Lanka
The second half took an entirely different direction when Macau scored as early as the 7th minute of the second half.
Sujan Perera punched out the initial corner kick but the defence was not able to clear the ball allowing Pang Chi-hang to dribble into the area before sending in a low cross which was fumbled by Perera. A scrambling Kavindu managed to block the first attempt but was helpless as the rebound fell to Filipe Duarte who scored in from close range.
Sri Lanka heads dropped immediately and was reflected on their play from thereon in. Macau went into a 5-4-1 immediately to consolidate at the back and not give the Lankans space to attack. Sri Lanka was not able to repeat their performance from the first half which played to the hands of the home team.
As the game looked to be drifting away from the visitors and with 20 minutes till full time, coach Packeer Ali withdrew Mohamed Aakib who was not up to his mark and replaced him with another striker, Mohamed Shabeer.
Hereon, almost at every occasion, the exhausted bodies collided which took some pace off the game as the clock ticked away. Macau were the happier of the two sets as the Lankans too broke down with cramps.
Sri Lanka looked out of sorts without clear direction as their only tactic was to pepper the ball into the box and efforts from long-range.
Sri Lanka tried hard to regain momentum, but Macau had the stronghold. The 5 minutes that was added at full time did not help the Lions as they could not find a way to break the resolute defense of the home team.
Full Time – Macau 1 – 0 Sri Lanka
Macau – Filipe Duarte 52’
Macau – Nicholas Mario Tarrao 90+3’, Cheong Hoi San 86’, Lam Ngai Tong 28’, Kong Cheng Hou 84’