Zahira College dominated play as they triumphed 4-1 against the newly promoted De Mazenod College, Kandana in the opening match of the U18 Division I Schools’ Football Championship at the Zahira Grounds.
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De Mazenod College were making their return to the top division after two years. They were demoted back in 2016 and became runners-up in the 2017 U18 Division II Championship to earn a promotion while Zahira College finished last season in 4th place.
Both teams went hard at it in the opening minutes with De Mazenod getting the first shot of the match. However, an unfortunate goalkeeping error in the 5th minute by the De Mazenodian goalkeeper Pawan Nimsara resulted in Zahira being gifted the goal. The keeper failed to hold onto a long-range shot leaving Hasan Raza to score a simple tap in.
The match got physical from that point on as both teams went hard into tackles which included a horrendous tackle by a Mazenodian player for what looked to be a sure red card but was fortunate as the referee showed only a yellow card.
De Mazenod kept getting chance after chance to equalize starting with a good header by Banu Jayakody but it went straight into the hands of the goalkeeper.
This was followed by a golden opportunity when the Zahira keeper rushed out to get the ball but got his timing wrong. The De Mazenod forward took the ball round the keeper but in his excitement, could not get a proper shot off on goal as his shot rebounded off the defender on the goal line and his second shot was straight to the recovering keeper.
Zahira punished De Mazenod for lost chances as they went onto double their lead in the 34th minute. Once again, the De Mazenod goalkeeper made an error when he rushed off his line to try and gather the ball but missed completely leaving an open goal for Abdul Razzak to score.
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In the 36th minute De Mazenod finally took their chance with a strong shot from inside the box leaving the goalkeeper rooted as Promod Dilshan finally found the back of the net for his team.
The lads from Kandana got another great opportunity to score when the Zahira keeper spilt the ball allowing a powerful shot to be taken towards goal, but the Zahira defender brilliantly leaped and headed the ball to safety off the goal line, preventing De Mazenod from equalizing.
Minutes into additional time, Zahira extended their lead even further when a corner struck into the box found Raza who struck a powerful shot to make it 3-1.
Half Time – Zahira College 3 – 1 De Mazenod College
Second half was very even early on both teams getting into the opposition territory but both defenses holding strong when out of nowhere a Zahira player took a powerful shot from range catching the keeper off guard. However, unfortunately for Zahira the ball came crashing back off the crossbar.
Play continued with neither team able to get the breakthrough for a majority of the half until finally Zahira, following some dominant attacking play found Mohamed Sajid on the edge of the 15-yard box who struck a powerful shot to extend their lead even further.
Full Time – Zahira College 4 – 1 De Mazenod College
ThePapare.com Player of the Match – Hasan Raza (Zahira College)
Zahira College – Hasan Raza 5’ & 45+2’, Abdul Razzak 34’, Mohamed Sajid 75’
De Mazenod College – Promod Dilshan 36’
De Mazenod College – Avishka Jeewantha 23’
Zahira College – N. Nabeel 58’