Sri Lanka semi-final hopes dashed

SAFF U18 Championship 2019

Action from the Sri Lanka v India match in the SAFF U18 Championship 2019. (Photo Credits - All Nepal Football Association)

Another dismal performance by Sri Lanka saw them lose 3-0 to India in the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) U18 Championship putting the islanders out of the tournament.  

Unlucky Sri Lanka go down fighting to Bangladesh

Sri Lanka U18 Football team started their campaign in the..

Sri Lanka locked horns with India in the second game of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) U18 Tournament with hopes of reaching the semi-finals with a win.

Sri Lanka went in with two changes from the match against Bangladesh. The armband was also transferred from Shenal Sandesh to Mohamed Mushfir. Mohamed Sajid and Avishka Deshan replaced Hassan Razaa and Thalal Shihab.

In wet conditions it was India who were dominant. They kept hold of procession and attacked from the wings. However they were wasteful in front of goal and lacked precision to finish off their attacks.

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Sri Lanka struggled to get out of their own half and when they did, they couldn’t really attack as Shenal Sandesh was the lone forward upfront. Mohamed Sajid was replaced by Thalal Shihab in the 36th minute due to an injury.

India was once again deprived of opening the scoring when the shot from right wing hit the cross bar and the return ball too went astray. 

With complete contrast to the first game, the Lankans adopted a very defensive approach and played a kick and run game instead of keeping possession when they had control of the ball. With the Lankans sitting back, India pushed men forward and had only two in the back for most of the first half.

Lankans sweated and fought hard as they headed to the break without conceding.

Half Time: Sri Lanka 0 – 0 India

Sri Lanka goalkeeper Mohamed Mursith made a good save as soon as the second half started. Meetei Khumanthem was left unmarked inside the box and took a shot to the far post but Mursith was alert and palmed it away.

Mursith was the savior once again when he saved a shot on target at the near post this time. The Indian winger Khumanthem was left unmarked and once he had the ball he went past the defense with ease.

Gurkirat Singh, broke the deadlock in the 60th minute with a low drive which was deflected and beat the Lankan keeper. Once again it was cross from the right wing the Islanders failed to close out. 

Thalal Shihab came close to equalizing for Sri Lanka when his header off a corner went agonizingly close to goal.  The first opportunity came the Lankans’ way in the 67th minute.

The Indian attack was relentless in search of a second goal. This gave the Lankans some space to exploit. Coach Amanulla then pulled out the substitute Thalal Shuhaib and replaced him with Mohamed Rikaz. Shuhaib suffered from cramp and had to be changed.

With a spot in the semi-final at stake, the Lankans looked to have come to the party late as they pushed men forward only in the last 5 minutes. A similar approach from start of the game could have worked well for the Lankans as this Indian outfit were weaker than Bangladesh.

All Lankan hopes faded when Gurkirat Singh got his second goal with a beautiful left foot shot out of the box to beat Mursith in goal. Minutes later Shishan Prabudda scuffed a good opportunity for the Lankans to get back into the game. Aman Chetri then rubbed salt in the wound with a simple tap in in the first minute of added time to make it 3-0 for the Indians.

Another 3-0 defeat saw the Lankans go out at the group stage and they will now look forward to the AFC U19 Championship Qualifiers in Qatar in November.

Full Time: Sri Lanka 0 – 3 India

Goal Scorers
India: Gurkirat Singh 61‘ & 89‘, Aman Chetri 90+2‘

Yellow Cards
Sri Lanka: Mohamed Sajid 32’, M. Pirasanth 75‘
India: Pratap Singh 80’ Gurkirat Sing 83’, Aman Chetri 86’

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