Gallant St.Henry’s over-run Zahira to be crowned Champions

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St.Henry’s College brought back glory days as they dethroned Zahira College 3-1 to be crowned Kotmale Chox U19 Schools Football Champions in a thrilling encounter at the Race Course International Stadium.

In what was one of the best matches in Sri Lanka club and schools football history Zahira College and St.Henry’s College battled it out in a high tempo and end to end football.

After both sides squandered a couple of chances it was the Jaffna lads who took the lead after a defensive mistake. The lead was short lived as Zahira leveled things on the stroke of half time. Henricans galloped away in the second half as they did in the quarter and semifinals scoring two more while Zahira had an effort cleared off the line in the dying stages.

The two sides started off the final in electric fashion keeping the thousands of fans who had flocked to the Race Course breathless. Benedict Kanistan and Rexus Mathusan for St.Henry’s and Farood Faiz and Aadhil Ahamed for Zahira College pulled the strings in midfield as the strikers sent either defense onto overdrive.

 Holy Cross secure third place with a narrow win 

The winger for St.Henry’s, Alfred Thanesh in particular was causing havoc with his marauding runs on the left for Zahira College as the majority of attacks came from the side where Mohamed Yousuf was patrolling. Thanesh delivered a few exquisite passes into the box but no striker could get on the end of it.

On the other end it was the crisp one touch football from the reigning champs that caught the eye and pierced the defense every now and then but poor finishing and brilliant shot-stopping from Ukantheeswaran Amalraj kept Zahira goalless.

The deserved goal came for St.Henry’s in the 41st minute albeit from a poor goalkeeping from Mohamed Ishan. Ishan came off his line to punch a corner but only managed to find Benedict Kanistan with his flap, and Kanistan seeing the goalkeeper away, chipped it over and Zahira Captain Mohamed Musharaff could only slice it in for an own goal while trying to clear.

 Photo Album – St.Henry’s v Zahira – Schools Football Final 

Zahira evened the scores at halftime when Amalraj punched away a cross and the rebound effort from Mohamed Shaheel took a deflection and found Mohamed Hammath who scored sending the majority Zahira fans into frenzy.

St.Henry’s superior fitness levels proved to be the telling factor as the Jaffna lads ran amok in the second half while desperate defending kept Zahira in the game. Though Zahira managed to make attacking moves it was few and far between.

In the 67th minute another defensive mistake; this time poor communication between Ijaz Ishan and Mohamed Ishan resulted in the Henricans taking back the lead. The ball was delivered over the defense, while indecision from Ishan and Ijaz failing to clear resulted in Gnaneeswaran Antonyraj coming in between the two to poke home the second goal.

 Match Replay – Zahira v St.Henry’s – U19 Football Championship (Final) 

Zahira tried to pull things back but the game was stretched beyond them six minutes later as Benedict Anojan fired a goal after the defense failed to clear the ball after a scramble inside the box.

Zahira had one last opportunity deep into injury time but that effort was cleared away off the line as referee Dayan Sendanayake blew the whistle for full time sending the Henricans into dreamland.

ThePapare.com Man of the Match: Alfred Thanesh

Jubilant St.Henry’s College, Coach Mariyathas Vijayakumar had this to say;

“We came in with an attacking plan and the same formation of 3-3-4 like we did in the quarter and semifinals. Yes, not having Sri Lanka U19 player Jude Suman was a minus but we managed well. We thought Zahira would score early as they often do but luckily we managed to score before them. We knew we play our best and dominate the match in the second half and we did.”

A dejected Mohamed Roomy;

“It was a fantastic match for the neutrals. End to end football with high tempo. We missed a few chances in the first half that cost us the match because we knew last 15-20 minutes we would have to hold on against their fitness. And our midfield in the 2nd half did not work as well in the first half. They had very good players and If we can get some of the best juniors from the North we can surely build a great U19 and U23 teams for the future.”

Awards

  • Best Goalkeeper of the Final (FFSL Award) – Ukantheeswaran Amalraj (St.Henry’s)
  • Best Player of the Final (FFSL Award) – Benedict Anojan (St.Henry’s)
  • ThePapare.com Player of the Tournament – Benedict Anojan (St.Henry’s)
  • ThePapare.com Goalkeeper of the Tournament – M.C.M.Silva (St.Sebastian’s)
  • ThePapare.com Golden Boot – Dilip Peiris (Maris Stella)
  • ThePapare.com Coach of the Tournament – Philip Fernando (St.Sebastian’s)