MANILA, Philippines - The Sri Lankan football team admitted lagging behind in training against what its coach labeled as “a difficult opposition” but vowed to give the Philippine Azkals a “torrid time” in their upcoming 2014 Fifa World Cup Asian qualifier.
“We commenced training late (already) due to a delayed selection process. However, we are in a positive frame of mind to counter the challenge before us,” Brave Reds coach Jang Jung said in a report on Sri Lanka’s Daily Mirror.
Veteran defender Rohana Ruwanthilake leads the 25-man roster tasked by the Football Federation of Sri Lanka (FFSL) to do battle with the Azkals on June 29 at the Sugathadasa Stadium in Colombo.
Senior players Chathura Gunaratne, Nadeeka Pushpakumara, Fazul Rahuman and Mohammed Izzadeen are expected to provide experience to the Sri Lanka side,which according to skipper Ruwanthilake is composed 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,” skipper Ruwanthilake said.
Other members are Kavindu Ishan, Tuan Rizni, Sujan Perera, Manjula Fernando, Sampath Bandara, Shafraz Kaiz, Thilanka Nandasiri, Sanka Dhanushka, K. Sutharshan, Lahiru Tharaka, Mohamed Zain Ismath, Nagoor Meera, P.J. Chaminda, Dilki Kumara, Kolitha Lankesara, Bandara Warakagoda, Shafraz Nazar, Chameera Kirishantha, Nuwan Priyantja, Nimal Antoni, and Chathura Gunarathna.
“Our main target is to perform well in the first leg, which will be played on home soil,” said Ruwanthilake, who plays for Saunders SC in the Sri Lanka FA Cup, the South Asian island nation’s premier football tournament.
The Brave Reds will go up against a Phl side that’s beefed up by Fil-foreigners with experience in professional leagues in Europe and the US and currently training in Germany. And Sri Lanka’s Korean coach is well aware of this.
“They (Azkals) have grown very fast and are going to be a difficult opposition for us. They have prepared very well for this tournament,” said Jung.