The Lions of Khorasan, however, will be looking to compound the agony for the opposition and look to finalize a semi-final berth...
The South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship has played cradle to a new record. Sri Lanka were left in utter gloom on Monday night as a Maldivian team ran riot on them scoring ten goals to a nil offering by the Lankans. They have no time to adjust however as the Lions of Khosaran will look to go for the cranium and all but end the Lankans' slim chances while advancing themselves to a semi-final.
Speaking post-match, Sri Lanka coach Claudio Roberto owned by taking full responsibility for the humiliation that had been besotted on his team.
“Everything went wrong; I take full responsibility for the match. When we started the game, we conceded the first goal and then our goalkeeper was red carded. My players got upset, but I take full responsibility,” lamented the Brazilian, addressing journalists in a post-match interview.
However, he soon turned an optimistic corner and mentioned, “But we have another two matches, we will show our reaction then.”
Despite the coaches re-assurances their ruin states the obvious: They maybe a sitting duck for the others in the group notably their next opponents, Afghanistan.
The Lions of Khorasan found it difficult to breakdown their opponents Bhutan, in a group ‘B’ opening encounter, but coach Yousuf Karagar has vowed to field a stronger side for the next game. Afghanistan won the game, albeit scrappily, 3-0.
“Our players were playing well, but a lack of practice on the wet surface caused us difficulty. We always play on artificial surfaces. Also some of our players arrived late,” brusquely stated the Afghan coach.
However the Afghan team have their ranks boosted by the arrival of Belal Arezou, a player for Norwegian side Askar, and will look to punish the opposition further ahead.
Elucidating on the availability of players, the coach stated, “Five of our players are from outside the country. Belal arrived today and he couldn’t play. After many years of war, sports has taken off. Football is being played at grassroots and players coming from Europe also impart their experience.”
He delivered a note of caution to opponents by stating that his team will garner the positives from this match and go all out to deal with other opponents, viz. Maldives and Lanka.
“We tried to score more goals, but we couldn’t. We have made our preparations for the Maldives and Sri Lanka games but we will surely change the line-up,” was the coach’s dictum.
The Brave Reds have already lost to the Afghans 1-0 in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers earlier this year, so they will be itching to have a go, primarily for redemption of their last outing.
Sri Lanka will look to offset their misery by denying the group favourites an easy ride, possibly creating an upset.
2011’s finalists Afghanistan, however, will look with candy glossed eyes at Lanka’s last result and with an enforced squad will aim to replicate the same sort of carnage, they witnessed by Maldives.
It doesn’t look like this match will go down to the wire but one can expect a feisty affair.
How do you stay up with football when on the move? With http://m.goal.com –your best source for mobile coverage of the beautiful game.