A day after getting married, Mohamed Rifnaz produced an inspired captain’s performance as championship leaders Renown SC defeated Super Sun SC 2-0 at the tricky Vernon Fernando Stadium in the 2017 Dialog Champions League.
A goal and an assist from Rifnaz and Mohamed Arshad effectively ended Super Sun’s thin chance of a title push while strengthening their own. They now lead close rivals and defending back to back champions Colombo FC, who has a game in hand, by six points.
Super Sun and Renown came into this crunch match after registering 3-1 victories over Crystal Palace FC and Pelicans SC respectively in the previous week. Both sides were without their ace strikers – Afis Olayemi for Super Sun and Job Michael for Renown – suspended due to accumulating double yellow cards.
As customary the two teams struggled to get into rhythm under the poor ground conditions and the only chance which came in the opening 10 minutes was fired over by the hosts.
Thereafter, Renown silenced the partisan Beruwala faithful, as Arshad assisted Rifnaz for the opening goal. Arshad took advantage of a switched off defence to cross the ball to Rifnaz inside the box, who chested it and volleyed from an angle past the former Renown goalkeeper Lawrence Prince.
Though the ground conditions completely hampered their free-flowing football, Renown grew into the game and controlled the game for the majority of the first half.
In a rare opportunity, Mohamed Ramees headed just wide from a corner much to the anguish of the fans but Super Sun soon found themselves 2-0. This time, the in-form Arshad and Rifnaz switched roles, with the latter crossing the free-kick into an unmarked Arshad, who headed it in at his near post.
Close to the half time whistle Renown had a goal disallowed for an off-side. A counter attack saw Rifnaz pass to Traore Mohamed who under pressure hoisted the ball over the defenders and the onrushing goalkeeper. The ball was bouncing away from the goal when Rifnaz stuck a leg to direct it goalward but the flag had gone up at the near end.
Half time – Super Sun SC 0 – 2 Renown SC
The 2nd half started with changed weather conditions, as a dark cloud hovered over the ground. The cooler air brought about a change in the Super Sun play, as they started to keep more possession compared to the first half. However, chances were hard to come by for the lads from Beruwala.
It took until almost the hour mark for the visitors to make their presence felt in the 2nd half. Arshad could only manage a tame effort on target from a counter-attack. Super Sun poured forward in search of goals but good defending and a couple of saves from Rasik Rishad made it a frustrating evening.
Near the end Renown got a couple of chances only to be denied by Prince and poor finishing but Renown opened up a six-point lead at the top, passing the ‘Kaluthara test’ with authority.
Full time – Super Sun SC 0 – 2 Renown SC
ThePapare.com Player of the Match – Mohamed Rifnaz
Renown SC – Mohamed Rifnaz 11’, Mohamed Arshad 31’
Super Sun SC – Alponsu Christhuraj 37’, Mohamed Ramees 66’
Renown SC – Hakeem Kamil 22’, Mohamed Mujeeb 73’