Sri Lanka battered at AFC U16 Qualifiers

AFC U16 Championship 2020 Qualifiers


iThe U16 Boys National Football Team returned to the island after anther poor qualifying competition for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U16 Championship 2020. 

Mihran brace secures Sri Lanka a stunning comeback win

Mohamed Mihran’s injury time goal secured………

The team conceded 20 goals in 4 games and were not able to score a goal.

The 23 man team took wing to the Kingdom of Jordan soon after the conclusion of the SAFF U15 Competition where the team lost 3 out of their 4 group games. The tourney started well for the Lankans when they beat Bhutan 3-2 after being down 2-0. 

The joy lasted only days as in the following matches against Bangladesh, Nepal and eventual champions India, the Lankans lost 7-1, 2-0 and 5-0. Overall conceding 16 goals and scoring only 4.

The coaching team remained unchanged for the U16 qualifiers with Aruna Sampath leading as Head Coach. The final squad of 23 players consisted of 18 players from the SAFF Tour with Sayaan Daani (St. Lucias Mannar) and Naseer Fahim (Uva College) both being dropped without getting any game time. 5 new players were included to the final squad days before leaving to Amman.

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The first game was against Kuwait U16 where the Lankans lost 2-0. Both goals were scored in the first half. The Kuwaitis took the gas off the pedal and the Lankans managed to hold off and not concede in the 2nd half. The Lankan boys were unable to trouble the Kuwait defense during the entire game.

Tajikistan in the second game were not as lenient as they put 8 goals past a toothless Lankan outfit. The first half ended 5-0. The Lankans did manage to limit the damage as they allowed only 3 goals in the 2nd half going into full defensive mode.

The 3rd game was against an even tougher opponent as the Lankans played hosts Jordan. to everyone’s surprise the Lankans played well in the first half and with some luck held the Jordanians to 0-0.

The second half saw a complete turnaround as the hosts pummeled 7 goals past the hapless Lankan goalkeeper who contributed to some of the goals through poor handling.  It was a surprise the coach continued with the same goalkeeper after he let 8 goals through in the previous match.

The final group game was against Nepal who incidentally beat the same Sri Lanka outfit 2-0 in the SAFF U15 Championship. First team goalkeeper Tharusha Rashmika was not named in the match squad. Mohamed Hafeel replaced him in goal as Sri Lanka looked for some consolation.

Nepal opened the scoring in the 36th minute and went in to the break 1-0 up. As it was the case against Jordan, the Lankans tank was only up to the first half. The second half was dominated by Nepal and the Himalayan team managed to score 2 more goals to finish the game 3-0.

Sri Lanka completed the tournament conceding 20 goals in 4 games. They were not able to score a single goal of their own. The youth level football in the country is a matter of much debate and authorities need to find better ways to improve player quality if Sri Lanka are to compete at the highest level.

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