As the SAFF Championship approaches, Goal profiles the 8 contenders who vie for glory in the South Asian International tournament. In this edition, we focus on Sri Lanka...
COUNTRY NAME: Sri Lanka
GROUP : B (along with Afghanistan, Maldives, Bhutan)
ADMINISTRATIVE BODY: Football Federation of Sri Lanka (FFSL)
FIFA RANKING: 170
NICKNAME: Brave Reds
Last Official Match Played: Sri Lanka 3-0 Mongolia (6th March 2013)
|History And Team Highlights
The Sri Lankan football team was formerly known as the Ceylon National Team who played their first International match against neighbours, India in 1952 where they went down 2-0 at home. It was in 1982 that they changed their name when Ceylon was renamed as Sri Lanka.
A small island country, their football is often overlooked in favour of their massively successful cricket team which has successfully won a World Cup. Controlled by the Football Federation of Sri Lanka (FFSL), they have never managed to make an appearance in the World Cup or the Asian Cup.
The FFSL in its former avatar of Ceylon Football Association was formed in 1939. Even before this, the first football league in Sri Lanka was the Colombo Football League in 1911.
Their only notable success in continental competitions was winning the SAFF Championship in 1995 at home soil defeating India in the finals. They also ended runners up in the tournament's previous iteration in Pakistan.
They also managed to end runners up in the 2006 AFC Challenge Cup held in Bangladesh, going down to Tajikistan 4-0 in the finals.
|History In The SAFF Championship
The Brave Reds have been a part of the SAFF Championship, since the tournament was started in 1993 as the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation Gold Cup, and finished runners up in the four nation competition, which was won by India.
The Islanders certainly took tips from the inaugral competition as they managed to strike gold in the next edition in Bangladesh where they were crowned champions. In the following competition in 1997, they managed to end fourth.
From 1999-2005 however, they could not manage to replicate their early form as they were eliminated in the first round itself in three successive editions.
They bounced back in the 2008 and 2009 editions finishing semi-finalists in each of the tournaments but again lost form as they were eliminated in the first round in the 2011 tournament held in India.
|2013 SAFF Championship Final Squad
Goalkeepers: Dasun Paranavithane, Sampath Bandara, Sujan Perera.
Defenders: Sanka Danushka, Suranda Bandara (Captain), Peter Charles, Amith Kumara, Mohamed Sameer, A. Bandara Warakagoda, Eranga Prasad, Lahiru Tharaka.
Midfielders: Chathura Gunaratne (vice-captain), Raumy Mohideen, T. R. T. Rizni, H.D.M. De Silva, M. Sanoj Sameera, L.C. Sajith Kumara, Mohamed Fazal, Nipuna Bandara.
Forwards: M. N. M. Nafeer, Chathuranga Sanjeewa, M. Issadeen, R. D. Sudarshana Gunasinghe, M. N. M. Imran.
|Players To Watch Out For
Chathura Gunaratne: The 31 year old veteran midfielder has to provide the goods if Sri Lanka hope to make a mark in the SAFF Championships. The central midfielder also has a good eye for the goal as he has scored 6 times for the national team in 34 appearances and will need to provide the goods from midfield as Sri Lanka have fielded an inexperienced strikeforce.
Nipuna Bandara: The 22 year old right winger, who plies his trade for Sri Lankan Air Force team will be a force to contend with. The pacy winger had demonstrated great skill in the 2011 SAFF Championships and had managed 2 goals even at the age of 20.
Suranda Bandara: The second oldest player in the squad after Chathura at 28 years, and also the skipper, the centre back from Solid Sports Club will have to helm the defense if they have to progress in the tournament.
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