With the most awaited showdown just days away, a power hungry team of stickers are ready to make a name for themselves. Will this be the breakthrough year for the Sri Lankan Men’s Hockey Team?
The Sri Lankan hockey team which toured Oman in order to participate in the…
Indonesia brings us one of the biggest sporting events in Asia, the Asian Games 2018, from the 18th August to 3rd September in Palembang, Jakarta. A national team has been selected to represent Sri Lanka in the Men’s field hockey event, to take Sri Lanka up a notch.
Hockey, once a powerful force for the nation, has been slow to ascend to the top ranks of the world, but will stop at nothing short of their ultimate goals.
Over the span of two years, the Men’s Hockey team has made a leap from the 43rd position to the 38th rank in the World Hockey Rankings. The team is also ranked 9th in the Asian region and is at an impressive 4th place in the South Asian rankings.
Sri Lanka had a hot run in their debut Hockey World Cup of 2016/17, beating each and every nation in their pool, but were unable to reach the final stages.
Under the leadership of experienced mentor, Anuruddha Herath Bandara, 18 of Sri Lanka’s finest will come together from all parts of the country to carry the nation forward at the 2018 Asian Games.
What’s known as the ‘cradle of hockey’ in Sri Lanka, Matale, has produced 11 of the 18 in the team. Lahiru Weerasooriya is one among the 11, and will take the responsibility of captaining the team on tour.
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India, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan are pooled alongside Sri Lanka for the group stages. Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Oman and Thailand will join the event from group B.
The team is not short of experience. Among those in the squad are Isanka Jayasundara, Harendra Dharmaratne, Nalantha De Silva, Sandaruwan Priyalanka, Maduranga Wijesinghe, Tharindu Hendeniya and Dhammika Ranasinghe, all of whom have over 50 international appearances to their names, according to skipper Wijesooriya.
Full Squad: Lahiru Weerasooriya (C), Maduranga Wijesinghe, Sandaruwan Piyalanka, Tharanga Gunawardena, Nalantha De Silva, M G Sanjeewa, Rajitha Kulathunga, Udayashan Fernando, Chamalka Rukshan, Vipul Dhanushka, Anuradha Suresh, Tharindu Hendeniya, Dhammika Ranasinghe, Harendra Dharmaratna, P. Hendeniya, Isanka Jayasundara, Sheran Nimanka, Gihan Sangeeth.
“Because we have highly experienced campaigners, we are able to take the pressure from the bigger teams” Wijesooriya said.
Along with experience, the team welcomes three freshers to the mix. Captain Wijesooriya is confident that the old and new will come together as one on the field to make a real difference in the game of hockey for Sri Lanka.
Currently hanging on to the 9th position in Asia, the team’s goals and hopes for the 2018 Asian Games is to move up the ranks to reach a best 5th position. Stepping in to the 5th – 7th positions will be a massive leg up for the nation.
Head Coach for the tour, Anuruddha Herath Bandara had this to say: