The first of two trials for the selection of the U19 national squad for the qualifying rounds of the upcoming Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U19 Championship 2018 was held at the City Football Complex on the 13th of June.
City Football Complex hosted the trials for the players from Northern, Eastern, Central, North Central and North Western Provinces. A staggering total count of 93 participants from different parts of the island joined the trials. It Is analyzed that Jaffna, Mannar, Puttalam, Badulla, Kandy and Wennappuwa are the locations that produced the majority of the participants in the camp.
The selections for the Sri Lanka U19 National team for the upcoming AFC U19 Championship..
Players who shined during the island-wide interschool competitions and players who have currently started club football as their career were also in the participants in order to pursue their ultimate dream of wearing the national jersey with pride.
Well renowned St.Patrick’s College, Jaffna forward Rajikumar Santhan was also among the participants. Currently playing for his U18 school team, he has already showcased his brilliance in the schools’ arena with attacking performances in the Kotmale U19 Schools’ Football Championship where they became runners-up in 2016.
He is also an integral part of Singing Fish SC that came into the quarterfinals of the 2017 FA Cup. Singing Fish was the last Northern Provincial team to be knocked out of the tournament. A total of five players representing his alma mater visited the trial.
One of the finest teams in North – St. Henry’s College’s Benedict Kanistan, Gnaanesvaram Anthonyraj and Premkumar Sinthujan also participated in the trials. Anothnyraj is regarded as one of the finest attacking prospects by many pundits. Serving for youth national team of different age groups for many years now, he has also travelled to Japan and played during his U16 career. He has also received training in Germany through a programme organized by Allianz Insurance.
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Defender Sinthujan has been playing well as a defender for St.Henry’s where they have come into the final stages of major competitions. He would be benefit from the experiences he shared with former U19 national players Jude Suman, Madhushan and Antony Ramesh if he was selected for the national squad.
Benedict Kanishtan has been instrumental in delivering a lot of success for St.Henry’s College. Despite playing in midfield, he has shown versatility to adapt to different roles where he could occasionally be used as a forward or a right winger if need arises.
Around 20 players participated from Jaffna during the session. This once again certifies the improvement in the standard of the game in the northern region.
Ishara Sandaruwan is another emerging player to keep eyes on. Playing for New Youngs FC in the Dialog Champions League, he has also played in the midfield for Wennappuwa St.Joseph Vaz College who reached the semifinals in the Kotmale U19 tournament.
One of the leading football coaches in Sri Lanka, Sumith Walpola is appointed to take charge of the youth national squad. He is a former national player and currently the coach of Saunders SC. He has inevitably coached many talented youngsters and brings his bags of experience into the preparation for the tournament.
Coach of Moragasmulla SC, Rohan Wickramaratne is appointed as Sumith’s assistant. Former national goalkeeper Lalith Weerasinghe will discharge duties of the goalkeeper coach. He is currently training the goalkeepers of Colombo FC.
The second stage of the selection for the players from Southern and Western Provinces will be held on the 20th of June at Colombo City Football Complex.