By Asanka Gammanpila
|Sri Lanka team- Last row standing from left- Kavindu Ishan, Tuan Rizni, Sujan Perera, Manjula Fernando, Sampath Bandara, Shafraz Kaiz and Thilanka Nandasiri. Second row from left- Sanka Dhanushka, K. Sutharshan, Lahiru Tharaka, Mohamed Zain Ismath, Nagoor Meera, P.J. Chaminda, Dilki Kumara, Kolitha Lankesara, Bandara Warakagoda, Shafraz Nazar, Chameera Kirishantha and Nuwan Priyantja. Seated from left- Nimal Antoni, M. Izzadeen, Chathura Gunarathna, Sanju Silva (Physio), Jang Jung (head coach), SP Wasantha Wickramasinghe (Manager), D. Chandrasiri (coach), Thushara Sampath (Asst. coach), Rohana Ruwanthilake (captain), Fazul Rahuman and Nadeeka ushpakumara.|
The Football Federation of Sri Lanka (FFSL) has picked a twenty five member national pool ahead of the 2014 FIFA world cup qualifier against Philippines.
Sri Lanka will face Philippines in Colombo on June 29 at the Sugathadasa Stadium with the return game in Manila on July 03rd.
Saunders SC defender Rohana Ruwanthilake who led the national team at the last four international tournaments will once again be in charge of Sri Lanka.
Skipper Ruwanthilake, mid fielder Chathura Gunaratne, mid fielder Nadeeka Pushpakumara, mid fielder Fazul Rahuman and Mohammed Izzadeen are the seniors of the new look national team. “Our main target is to perform well in the first leg which will be played on home soil” said skipper Rohana Ruwanthilaka addressing a media briefing yesterday.
He further said that the side is a composition of young players oozing with talent. “All of them have gained experience playing international matches and are determined to give a torrid time for the visiting Philippine side” said Ruwanthilake.
The last international engagement saw Sri Lanka losing to DPR Korea 4-0, Afghanistan 1-0 and drawing 0 -0 with Nepal in the AFC challenge cup.
Philippines are ranked 155 by FIFA and have five professional footballers in their ranks.
“They have grown very fast and are going to be a difficult opposition for us” said Sri Lankan coach Jang Jung “they have prepared very well for this tournament and had undergone training in the UAE as well. The Sri Lankan coach conceded that they are a little bit behind in preparation. “We commenced training late due to a delayed selection process, however we are in a positive frame of mind to counter the challenge before us” said Coach Jang Jung.
In keeping with the vision of the FFSL to encourage the spread of the sport, three players from outstations had been included in the national pool. However two of them were sidelined from training due to injury while the other player who got selected was from Mannar.
Both matches are of vital importance as the team which has a better aggregate from both legs will qualify for the next round. Sri Lanka is presently ranked 169th by FIFA. Daily Mirror