Sri Lanka National Head Coach Nizam Packeer Ali broke down the performance of his team in the recent tour of Qatar, Laos and the 1st leg of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 Preliminary Joint Qualification Round 1 match against Macau.
Asked about the team’s performance in the 1st leg against Macau where Sri Lanka lost 1-0, Packeer Ali stated missed opportunities cost Sri Lanka the game.
“The team played very well, definitely we missed a lot of opportunities also and there were few mistakes in the defense line where we lost the match but overall the team played very well. We could have scored at least four or five goals and that’s part of the game. It happens all over the place when the team plays well and when they (opposition) get one chance, they score.
We have analyzed the mistakes and now we are prepared for it, we have been training on it, so I hope we will have a better match and the boys will try to win the next match.”
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Sri Lanka were leading in both matches against Laos, 1-0 in 1st match and 2-0 in the 2nd, until the last ten minutes. They went onto lose the 1st 2-1 and draw the 2nd 2-2. In terms of the team capitulating in the last minutes of the games played so far, Packeer Ali revealed his plan was to concentrate on the Macau game and that he did not follow his opponent’s way of sending in fresh legs.
“My main objective was to concentrate on the Macau match. So, I went pre planned for the match. The other team started changing five to six players as substitutes whereas I didn’t do that. I went as per my plan only to make necessary changes. So, when fresh players come in, all the pressure comes in the last minutes. Then again there were some lapses in defense also.”
In terms of the defense conceding goals in the final part of the game coach explained it is not down to physical fitness and only due to loss of focus during the match.
“It’s not the physical condition. They are 100 percent fit. It is the losing of focus during the match. I have analyzed it also. The 2nd game against Laos, it was a penalty which was given which was not a penalty. They scored that goal. Jude Suman did not have any contact with the opponent. The second goal was scored after we were brought down to 10 players.
The problem we are facing with our defense is that they are lacking thinking and we are working on it. They are only looking at the ball and not looking at the incoming player. We analyzed the match even yesterday. There were 4 defenders going into one position and the right side was open. We had a training session on that yesterday and we have been talking to the players for the past couple of days.”
Packeer Ali was confident his team has the mental strength to go all the way even if the game goes into extra time.
“Most of the defenders are experienced and matured players. They all play for good clubs in Sri Lanka. When we talk about Charitha he plays for Colombo FC, when you talk about Piuslas he plays for New Youngs, Jude Suman plays for Renown and left back Harsha plays for Air Force. So, these players are matured enough to understand to cope up.”
Lapses in communication were evident in goals conceded in Laos and in Macau. The Head coach further clarified saying its due to the quiet nature of his two central defenders.
“For example, Jude Suman is a very silent guy, he’s young and he is just starting to talk during matches. Even Duckson Piuslas doesn’t talk much, so there is a barrier. I think it will be fine in the future.”
He was positive about the performance of the forwards but revealed with maturity they will come good.
“In the game against Macau our forwards got good chances, Aakib and Dilip got chances. These guys are young and they have these lapses. One match they score a good goal and the second match they miss the easiest goal. The hardest goal they score and the easiest is missed. Most of the boys are 18, 19 years and maturity must come in time. When the maturity comes in, they will score goals.”
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A major talking point in the second game against Laos was the discipline. Mohamed Aakib was sent off for dissent after getting a second yellow card. The Coach defended the players’ approach putting it down to youth and getting carried away.
“The first yellow card was committed because he threw the jersey (celebrating his goal). These boys are very young, they get emotional and get carried away, it’s a big match for them. It happens in a match when you score a goal. Now we have educated them with the new laws of the game.
And during the game anyone will react to a penalty wrongly given, even I would have reacted. Later, you would have noticed in the Macau match no player argued with the referee.”