Sri Lanka lost three games before forcing a draw in their final group stage game in the SAFF U20 Championship 2022 played at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneshwar, India.
Sri Lanka v Bangladesh
Sri Lanka lost 1-0 against a strong Bangladesh side in their first game. Neither side were able to score before half time. Sri Lanka custodian Shane Banuka Croos produced two excellent saves in the opening 5 minutes to deny Bangladesh.
Both teams made a couple of substitutions at half time but it was the Bangladesh substitution that produced the goal. Mirajul Islam scored, beating three defenders and the goalkeeper in the 71st minute.
Sri Lanka v Nepal
Nepal defeated Sri Lanka 3-0 in match number 4. Sri Lanka held Nepal 0-0 at half time. Ayush Ghalan opened the scoring for Nepal in the 58th minute volleying home a rebound from a partial clearance.
Kritish Ratna Chhunju produced a stunner to make it 2-0 for Nepal in the 64th minute. Nepal scored their 3rd on the counter attack in the 83rd minute. Managya Nakarmi had an easy tap-in from close range.
Sri Lanka v India
A brilliant 2nd half performance saw India beat Sri Lanka 4-0. Shane Banuka was forced into making an excellent save as once again Sri Lanka held their opponent goalless at half time.
Himanshu Jangra made it 1-0 in the 50th minute heading in a cross at the far post from close range. Sri Lanka came close with a free-kick but the effort was blocked. Parthib Sundar’s powerful finish made it 2-0 for India in the 69th minute.
Gurkirat Singh’s penalty in the 74th minute made it 3-0 before a counterattack deep into added time saw Sundar score his 2nd and his team’s 4th.
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Sri Lanka v Maldives
A late goal saw Sri Lanka draw 1-1 against Maldives in their final group stage match. A goal for Sri Lanka was ruled out early in the game because of an off side. Both teams missed a couple of chances as they went into half time 0-0.
In the 50th minute Shane Banuka gave away a penalty but made amends as he produced two superb saves to deny the penalty being scored. Mohamed Ihsan missed a great chance for Sri Lanka and was made to pay by Aiham Hamdoon’s goal in the 74th minute. However, Sri Lanka skipper Theshan Thushmika headed in a free-kick in 90+6th minute to earn a draw.
It must be noted that Sri Lanka U20 played good football given the limited preparation time they had and were able to keep possession for a good period of play even against strong sides like India, Nepal and Bangladesh.
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