President of the Football Federation of Sri Lanka (FFSL) Anura De Silva confirmed that they will release the football calendar for the year 2017 by 1st of January.
He made this remark at the Press Conference held at the Football House for the launch of the Cargills Food City FA Cup.
Anura De Silva and Chairman of Finance and Media Ranjith Rodrigo answered a few questions posed by the media and they gave an insight into what the 2017 calendar will be.
“Champions League has to start early next year as there is the 2017 SAFF Cup which is in December in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Most tournaments will be played early next year as we have to stop the tournaments 2-3 months early in order to release players for the National Team,” Rodrigo added.
“We had the issue this season as we had to stop Champions League matches to release players for the National side, and then as we were going to restart the rain came and we had to postpone. Next year we are going to start the Champions League in May soon after the FA Cup ends,” he added.
However, Anura De Silva in his reply said that Head Coach of the National Team is against the tournament ending 2-3 months before as the players will be without match practice.
“We have talked with the Head Coach and asked Dudley Steinwall to give us his plans for 2017. Mr.Rodrigo said we need to stop the Champions League three months before, but Steinwall doesn’t want to end the tournament three months before as the players will be without proper match practice in the next few months. He wants the tournaments to end a months before,” De Silva added.
This was a major cause for Sri Lanka in the last couple of months as the side went into the AFC Solidarity Cup, a major international tournament, with just one international friendly in two months. Ironically it was Dudley Steinwall himself that was adamant in keeping the selected National squad only for practices, rather than releasing the players for the Champions League, which resulted in the tournament being postponed for two months.
Anura De Silva further went onto brief about the international matches they’ve planned for 2017 and are preparing a football calendar which will be finalized soon.
“We know what the international engagements we would have are and also the local, and already circulated (The calendar) to the Ministry of Sports (MoS) because the MoS is also making a calendar for 2017. By 1st of January you will know what our 2017 calendar is,” he remarked.
“Of course we are not happy with the performance of the National team. We all know we have a lack of international matches and we don’t have that much of finances to fund those but we are doing our best to have an international match at least every 2 months. We really want to have those matches here in Sri Lanka so that the fans can come and see,” he went onto say, which is good news for the Sri Lankan fans as the last international match which was played in the Island was in March 2015. That was the 2018 World Cup Qualifier against Bhutan where Sri Lanka succumbed to a shock 1-0 loss.
“We have the 2022 program going on and we are in talks with our partners. Once we finalize we will educate all the stakeholders. We are confident we are moving in the right direction and happy with what we doing at the moment,” he finally added on the much talked about but yet to be publicized Vision 2022 programme of the FFSL.