The breakout year; Sri Lanka Hockey on the front foot
A discipline that brings in talent from across the island with one goal in mind and one weapon in hand. The Sri Lanka Hockey team of 2018 redirected their destiny from 40 years of submission and setting new milestones in the Asian and International stadiums.
Here, we take a look at the biggest accomplishment our Lankan stickers achieved for the year 2018.
Sri Lanka Hockey were considered a top nation in the Men’s Field Hockey International arena back in the day where the Lions have taken center stage at the 1966 Asian Games, by the name ‘Ceylon’.
Impressively, Team Ceylon emerged 5th in the tournament, making their first mark on the international map. By 1970 Team Ceylon was hanging on in 6th place, in 1974 they bounced back to 5th and finished at the semifinal in 1978.
28 years and 7 editions of the Asian Games later, Sri Lanka took to Doha, Qatar in 2006 but failed to advance past the qualifiers with 0 wins. Not much was expected from a team that had not seen the light of an international game for the longest time, and it’s been a slow climb ever since.
However, a determined team flew to Indonesia with a miniscule yet vital goal in mind; to restore faith within themselves and the nation. Their job was to lay the foundation to a prosperous uphill climb for Sri Lanka Hockey, for the many years to come.
The 2018 Asian Games was held in Jakarta, Indonesia and a Lankan front led by Lahiru Weerasooriya was up against some healthy competition in the likes of India, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Hong Kong.
The Lions’ start in the competition was slow, losing the first two matches to Japan and South Korea. However, a 4-1 win against Hong Kong was the ultimate win that was for Sri Lanka at the Asian Games.
This win was way overdue for Team Sri Lanka, 40 years to be exact, and Captain Lahiru did not shy away from expressing his joy.
Re-live how our men took charge in Indonesia, in their winning game:
Sri Lanka vs Hong Kong – Match 3 | Asian Games 2018
- First Quarter
The first two minutes of the match was fast with Lankan striker Anurada Suresh putting the Hong Kong goalkeeper to the test with 3 shots on goal. Right outside the five-minute mark, Sandaruwan Priyalanka scored Sri Lanka’s first goal in the game.
- Second Quarter (2-0)
Anurada Suresh got cooking in the second quarter with thundering slaps on goal from the whistle. He finally got his breakthrough in the 25th minute off a penalty conversion to extend the lead by 2 goals, going into half time.
- Third Quarterer (2-0)
The third period finished goalless at the whistle with multiple substitutions at play. Sandaruwan Priyalanka and Nalantha Karunamunige charged at goalie Hou Fung Chan in search of a goal, but Chan defended well enough to prevent it.
- Fourth Quarter Quarter (4-1)
Evidently the liveliest quarter of the match, the Lankans managed two more goals for a convincing lead. Sandaruwan Priyalanka delivered his second stunner in the game as he slapped Sri Lanka’s third goal in the 50th minute. Chi Him Felix saved Hong Kong from a goalless loss as he successfully converted a penalty shot to score Hong Kong’s one and only goal.
In the counter attack, Sri Lankan skipper Lahiru Weerasooriya closed out the quarter and match for Sri Lanka off a revised penalty shot.
Team Sri Lanka has finally found their footing in the international stage and is hungry for more. The team is determined to climb higher and higher in the Asian and International charts and going into 2019, their one goal would be to better their 2018.