Sri Lanka and Maldives played out an entertaining 0-0 draw as both goalkeepers came out on top in their group B clash of the SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018 at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Sri Lanka fell to India 2-0 in their opening group B game of the SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018..
Sri Lanka went in to the game needing a win to progress from the group, following their defeat at the hands of India earlier in the week and will now rely on India thrashing the Maldives to progress.
Head Coach Nizam Packeer Ali dropped captain Subash Madushan, Mohamed Rifnaz and Sajith Kumara. In their place came Harsha Fernando, Dilan Kaushalya and Asela Madushan respectively.
Maldives started the game on the front foot, dominating possession and creating a plethora of problems for the Sri Lankan defence, especially from dead ball situations.
Sujan Perera, the skipper on the night, produced a couple of brilliant early saves to keep Sri Lanka in the game saving a point-blank header from a corner kick, and a direct free kick that was going in just under the bar.
The woodwork also came to Sri Lanka’s rescue as one of the few times the ball escaped the reach of the skipper, it crashed against the upright from a direct free kick.
Sri Lanka who had been quiet for a long time, managed to get the ball in to the back of the net in one of their rare forays forward courtesy of their U19 vice-captain Asela Madushan, who was rather harshly adjudged to be offside.
Apart from this solitary opportunity Sri Lanka really failed to pose any serious threat to the Maldivian defence, struggling to keep hold of possession despite winning the ball back in promising positions at times.
Half Time – Sri Lanka 0 – 0 Maldives
Sri Lanka got off to a much better start in the second half with Asikur Rahuman and Mohamed Fazal linking up well to put some pressure on the Maldivian defence. Maldives gradually began to settle in to the game following the restart and were helped by the Sri Lankan defence who conceded fouls in some dangerous areas.
Mohamed Irfan went close to opening the scoring in the game for Maldives, but he just failed to get on the end of a tantalizing ball played across the face of goal with the Sri Lankan defence and goalkeeper stranded.
In Sri Lanka’s best period of play Rahuman and Fazal forced the opposition keeper Mohammed Faisal into a couple of acrobatic saves with shots from outside that box to remind the Maldives of the threat that Sri Lanka possessed.
After a dismal display against India at the ‘SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018’ opening game….
A great link up between Kavindu Ishan and Asela Madushan saw the Maldivian keeper forced in to a smart double save, before Kavindu went close to opening the scoring on his own with a brilliant left footed effort that was well saved by Faisal in goal.
With Sri Lanka committing men forward in the final 10 minutes, Maldives were able to put the ball in the net via a great counter, but that goal too was disallowed for offside, as celebrations were short lived in the Maldivian camp. The game eventually ended scoreless even after 5 minutes of added time.
Full Time – Sri Lanka 0 – 0 Maldives
Sri Lanka: Bandara Warakagoda 53’, Kavindu Ishan 84’
Coach Nizam Packeer Ali at the post match interview has this to say;
“(Our progression) depends on the India-Maldives game. But I’m very happy with the boys, we missed a lot of opportunities to win, but I’m satisfied with the performance today. Some of the decisions that went against us were harsh; at least that’s what I felt.”