Why were they dropped from Sri Lanka U23 squad?

2020 AFC U23 Championship Qualifiers

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naveen dilip danusha aakib dinesh dropped sri lanka u23 squad afc

With the Sri Lanka Squad being announced for the 2020 AFC U23 Championship Qualifiers, a lot of the talk has been on a few players who were omitted from the final 23-player list.

Sri Lanka squad announced for AFC U23 qualifiers

The final 23-man squad for the 2020 Asian Football Confederation …..

The players in question are Naveen Jude (Java Lane SC), Dilip Peiris (Renown SC), Mohamed Aakib (Colombo FC), Ishan Danusha (Police SC) and Mahendran Dinesh (Police SC). All of whom in the recent past represented Sri Lanka U19 and had a brilliant 2018 season for their respective clubs.  

Selected players were called for the initial trials, after extensive scouting throughout the country. The above-mentioned players too were called in but according to sources, even though majority of them did not attend due to the Dialog Champions League 2018 season, they were included into the final pool of players.

All the players were asked to report to training soon after the Champions League was over.

Reasons for Omissions

Naveen Jude, who found his goal-scoring form towards the end of the season, had apparently chosen club over country to tour with Java Lane to participate in the CEM Gold Cup 2019 in India.

Dilip Peiris had a very good debut season for Renown in which he contributed with multiple goals and assists. However, he was withdrawn from the pool after conveying his desire to pursue his higher studies abroad.

Read More: Packeer Ali unhappy with Colombo FC & Renown

Ishan Danusha, more fondly known as ‘Pancha’, and Mahendran Dinesh were an integral part of the Police SC team who had a magnificent 2018 season where they came to the FA Cup semi final and were unbeaten champions in the Premier League Division I 2018.

Though both would have been in the final 23, they were omitted from the squad as they had started their Police Officer Training course and were not released to attend Sri Lanka practices.

Mohamed Aakib’s long and strenuous 2018 season with Colombo FC only finished on the 13th of March. This was just 6 days before the squad was due to leave for Bahrain for the qualifiers. According to reports, the management were in the view that given the hectic schedule the 18-year-old Aakib went through the season, he was too mentally and physically drained to be a part of the squad and needed proper rest to recover for future tournaments.  

Read More: The great Sri Lankan Football muddle

The limited time he had to train with the rest of the squad and adapt to the playing styles and tactics may have been another reason for his omission.

Final Say

The inclusion of the above-mentioned players would have been immense for the Sri Lanka U23 squad given their experience with Sri Lanka U19 and club level as well as their current form. However, given the situation, Head Coach Nizam Packeer Ali was forced to look elsewhere and compile the best possible squad from the available resources.

Photos: Sri Lanka Training Session | 2020 AFC U23 Championship Qualifiers

These five players will undoubtedly make their way into the Sri Lanka squad for the future tournaments. Until then, as fans of Sri Lanka Football shouldn’t it be our duty to wish the team the very best and cheer them on?

Comment your thoughts below on the omissions of the five players and if any other deserving player was not included into the Sri Lanka U23 Squad …

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