Sri Lanka Army who beat Holcim FA cup defending champions Police in a penalty tie breaker will meet Ratnam who beat Saunders also on a penalty tie breaker, at the Grand Finals of the Holcim FA Cup 2009 to be played at the City Football Complex in Slave Island at 3.30pm on Saturday.
The last time the two teams met each other was at the finals of the 2008 Premier League when Army beat Ratnams to clinch the Trophy .So this year’s Holcim FA Cup will be very crucial for Army to add to last years win while for Ratnam the challenge will be to win the Knock Out championship and seek sweet revenge.
|Ratnam SC Team
|Army SC Team
Ratnam are playing without three of their national players with Sri Lankan Football Captain Chatura Maduranghe, Raumy Mohideen and EB Channa playing professional Football in Maldives, while the absence of two senior players, Nadeeka Pushpakumara and Pradeep Perera who have joined other clubs makes it a much depleted force.
But what is very interesting is to see the entry of young players, Josephian Sadhintha Maduranga the find of the season and the Macedonian centre forward Malik Migara have done enough to serve notice on the seniors and show that there is no vacuum caused by the absence.
Ratnam is therefore a well composed team, their only problem being their skipper, the injured Sri Lanka striker Kasun Jayasuriya who is in a fight against time to be at its devastating best at the Final.
Kasun is no doubt a star striker and on his day is unstoppable. A certain match winner with enormous skills and a scintillating talent, Kasun can give Ratnam the coveted Holcim FA Cup if only he can summon the magic on the big occasion.
In addition to these front liners, Ratnam also have the services of Chrisantha Abeysinghe, Tharusha Rangana, B. Shivanka in the midfield, former national captain and centre back Dudley Steinwall , M. Ismirally in deep defense and the veteran yet dependable goalkeeper Dammika Senarath to meet the Army challenge on the day. Ratnam is coached by Dudley Steinwall who will influence their strategy as coach/player supported by the technical expertise of veteran M. Saboor Mohideen, with Saharan Singhawansa their familiar manager of the outfit.
Ratnam have won the FA Cup six times and have been a finalist on 15 occasions. They will therefore go all out to add to their tally and annex the Holcim FA Cup and handsome prize money on offer.
Army who came in to the lime light since last year having won the Premier League Title had been very consistent in their performance during this season too. Their fast and attacking style of play is evidence of their stamina and overall skill and there is no doubt that Ratnam will have to marshal their defense admirably to stop the marauding young Army bullets who will be eyeing the goal line with intricate moves and a strong concerted attack.
Army has the services of three top national players in M. Izadeen, Nirantha Perera and Bandara Warakagoda.
Izadeen who sports the No.8 jersey is an exceptional striker and is very dangerous in attack if allowed to shoot in the penalty area. The fast and tactical play of Asanka De Silva and Kelum Premanayake combines fluently with midfield feeders Priyankara and S. Priyadharshana whose ability to play up and down the field offer constant support to spoiler Nirantha Perera and together with Danushka Perera man the last line of defense. It is apparent that they will keep a close eye on Kasun and Migara so that custodian Ruwan Fernando will not have too much pressure having kept very well saving many penalties in the Quarters and Semis to bring Army into the Finals.
Army has also participated in the Asian Presidents Cup, Club Championship in Bangladesh and the Military Soccer Tournament in Male and is in great mental and physical condition nicely developed by their new coach, the golden goal header in the 1996 SAFF Championship, L H Sarath. Technical Advisor, Major Pathmanathan is a tower of strength to them while the welfare of the Army team is in the competent hands of the Chairman of Army Sports, Brigadier Duminda Kepptiwalana .
The teams are well balanced and it will be anybody’s guess as to who will win the Finals. The question is, can ARMY win the Holcim FA Cup for the first time and create history or can Ratnam take the trophy back to Kotahena for the 7th time, having last won the FA CUP way back in 2005.
Mr. Stefan Huber the Chief Executive Officer of Holcim Lanka will be the chief guest for this finals. The winners will carry home the prestigious Holcim FA Cup and a cash prize of Rs.250, 000 while the runner up will receive a consolation of Rs.100, 000.