Nisal Tharinda scored the only goal of the match in the second half to hand the defending champions a narrow 1-0 victory over Hameed Al Husseinie College in the third place play-off of the U19 Division I Championship held at the Moragasmulla grounds.
Both the group winners crashed to shock defeats in the semi-finals and hence met for a replay of last year’s final in the third place play-off.
Undefeated in the group stages, Maris Stella College lost to a physically dominating Holy Cross outfit 2-1. An off day at office from the Maris Stella midfield meant the champions couldn’t get into the finals for the second year in a row.
A late surge from Maris Stella in the dying minutes was not enough as Holy Cross managed to hold off defending champions to win 2-1 in the U19 Division I semifinal clash.
Meanwhile, Hameed Al Husseinie College played some of the most competitive football in recent history against a rejuvenated St. Joseph’s. The missed chances brought the match into penalties and the demons from last time’s penalty shootout loss to St. Patrick’s College came back to haunt the Hameedians as they lost again.
In today’s matchup, Hameed Al Husseinie College didn’t take much time to settle as they passed the ball freely and fluently. But despite all the time on the ball, they couldn’t create a decent chance in the early exchange.
Maris Stella on the other hand created a couple of opportunities. The first one came through a corner kick but Anjana Gunawardhana’s cross wasn’t utilized properly by Thathsara Fernando who directed a free header straight into the hands of goalkeeper.
St. Joseph’s College beat Hameed Al Husseinie College in the second semifinal encounter of the U19 Division I Football.
Nisal Tharinda, the star flanker, ran all the way form half line into opposition’s half but did not send in a cross and his effort from an acute angle missed the target.
Unfazed by the happenings on the other end, Hameed Al Husseinie College continued their ball passing game and slowly started to create a few headaches in the Maris Stella defense. Mohamad Sajid from Maris Stella defended resolutely to keep all the chances away.
Mohamed Rishan had two chances to break the deadlock but his shots lacked precision on both occasions. Hameed Al Husseinie College was caught offside on 8 occasions as they struggled to time their runs with Mohamad Shahlan being the main culprit.
Half Time: Maris Stella College 0 – 0 Hameed Al Husseinie College
Hameed Al Husseinie got off to a flier in the second half, winning two corners in the first two minutes. The push for the early goal went unrewarded courtesy of poor finishing.
Maris Stella punished Hameed AL Husseinie when the chance arrived. Nisal Tharinda drilled the ball past the Hameedian custodian, capitalizing on a failure to clear as he put Maris Stella 1-0 up in the 45th minute.
Nisal had the opportunity to put the match to bed when he broke free to go one on one with the goalkeeper by Maris Stella skipper Anjana Gunawardhana, however he tried to be too cute on that occasion by opting to pass it to his fellow striker Luke despite being in an easier position to score but the defender cleared the danger away.
The hot weather conditions meant that the players found it hard to give their fullest and started to wear down in the dying minutes of the game. Maris Stella put their numbers back in defense to hold on to the slender lead.
The 70th minute saw Mohamad Rishan going on a mazy run from the left flank but he was left with no support. He had no option but to go it on his own and he brilliantly tricked the rushing defenders but was too close to dink the ball past the goalkeeper.
With time running out, Maris Stella grew strong in confidence and Hameed Al Husseinie College looked lost in the middle of the pitch.
The referee blew the final whistle to mark the end of the match as the defending champions did just enough to grab the victory.
Full Time: Maris Stella College 1 – 0 Hameed Al Husseinie College
ThePapare.com Player of the Match: Mohamad Sajid (Maris Stella College)
Talking to ThePapare.com, the Coach of Maris Stella College;
“The players were not at their best in this game but we did just enough to win it. Nisal scored a good goal but we had far more easier chances but didn’t capitalize on it. Our midfielders made quite a few errors but the defense of the team was good enough to cover them up. Hameed Al Husseinie College has always been a tough team and it is always good to beat them, and we feel relieved with the results”
Hameedian Coach Imran after the third successive loss;
“Similar to last match, we didn’t finish the chances we created despite dominating the game most of the time. With a pinch of luck, we could have won the match but the scrambled goal gave them the advantage and they used it well. We had 11 offside calls against us, it shows how much we attacked. On another day we could have won it. But that’s football”
It was a competitive match between two good teams and it was a moment of brilliance that handed Maris Stella the advantage. They made sure they didn’t let the advantage go to waste.
Maris Stella College – Nisal Tharinda 45’
Maris Stella College – Shanon Chanuka 51’
Hameed Al Husseinie College – Mohamad Fazil 51’, Mohamad Sajith 80’