A late equalizer with seconds remaining and nerves of steel from Zahira College in the penalty shootout saw them snatch victory from the jaws of defeat against reigning champions St.Henry’s College in the Kotmale U19 Schools’ Football Championship semi-final at the Durayappah Stadium, Jaffna.
St.Henry’s led 1-0 at half time through a brilliant free-kick before Zahira equalized in the 2nd half. The hosts once again took the lead but a goalkeeper error with seconds remaining gave Zahira the opportunity for another equalizer as it finished 2-2 at the full time whistle.
In the penalty shootout Zahira broke St.Henry’s hearts as they won 4-1.
The goalkeeper of St Henry’s Ukantheeswaran Amalraj was the culprit for the loss because of his silly mistake by delaying without kicking the ball to play even when his side was leading 2-1 with a minute left in the game.
This resulted in referee R.A.Tharanga giving an indirect free-kick inside the box which Mohamed Shaheel duly obliged as he thumped home to equalize 2-2 with second remaining.
Amalraj was unsporting too just minutes earlier as he barged towards the opponent team coach, danced and uttered a few words after his team had taken the lead in the 91st minute through a superb goal through P.Krishanth. This resulted in a yellow card for Henrician custodian for the indecent act after the assistant referee complained the scene to the main referee.
Apart from this it was a completely thrilling encounter as both teams matched each other in dribbling, passing, controlling and speed.
One coach from the southern part of the country praised this encounter and that this even outclassed some of the premier club matches, as the match was played in fast pace both teams had their chances going begging as their forwards shots were off target.
In the 40th minute of the game R.A.Mathustan opened scoring for St. Henry’s with a perfect shot at goal through a free-kick.
Half time – St.Henry’s College 1 – 0 Zahira College
After the turn around Zahira pressed hard and due to a defensive lapse by a Henrician, Mohamed Aakib equalised in the 60th minute and the visitors too had a number of chances which were missed, mainly by Shafran Sathar.
Thereafter it was a ding dong battle for supremacy. With the home crowd support Henricians played their heart out to win the game. But they were unlucky in missing atleast three goals.
One kick from Anthonyraj hit the right post and came into play and no one was there to slot the ball into the goal.
In the 91st minute P. Krishanth 25 meters from the right flank floated the ball over Zahira custodian Kaleel Ur Rahman and the team from the peninsula was elated as it seemed they were heading towards the final.
But with a minute for the final whistle, goalkeeper Amlaraj of St. Henry’s made the biggest mistake of his football career and paid the penalty as Saheel equalized converting the indirect free-kick under extreme pressure.
Full time – St.Henry’s College 2 – 2 Zahira College
Zahira scored all four penalties through skipper Farood Faiz, Mohamed Murshid, Mohamed Aakib and Mohamed Nazik.
Benedict Anojan’s first penalty went wide of right post and Anthony Ramesh slotted his penalty perfectly.
But the third kick taken by Benedict Canistan was well saved by Zahira custodian Kaleel Ur Rahman giving Zahira the sweet revenge over St.Henry’s.
ThePapare.com Player of the Match – Mohamed Shaheel
St.Henry’s College – R.Mathustan 40’, P.Krishanth 90+1’
Zahira College – Mohamed Aakib 60’, Mohamed Shaheel 90+3’