Rohana Ruwanthilake, the Saunders SC defender has been renamed as the captain of the Sri Lanka football team for the forthcoming FIFA World Cup qualifiers by the Football Federation of Sri Lanka (FFSL).
The FFSL selected a 25-member football pool for the face off against their campaign opener against Philippines which Sri Lanka will host on June 29 at the Sugathadasa Stadium in Colombo.
“The main goal is to perform well and win the first leg against Philippines under home conditions,” a buoyant Ruwanthilake told reporters on Monday (June 20).
Ruwanthilake who captained Sri Lanka at four previous international competitions will receive the valuable services of experienced campaigners, midfielders Chathura Gunaratne, Nadeeka Pushpakumara, Fazul Rahuman and Mohammed Izzadeen who are the seniors of the fresh looking Sri Lankan side.
Ruwabthilake who was confident of the younger talent in the team relied them to strike at the all important home game against the Pacific Islanders. “Most of these youngsters as well as the seniors are internationally experienced and we are confident that Philippines will be given the perfect kind of challenge in Colombo,” he added.
However Sri Lanka will be hoping to better their performances from the recent international assignments in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifying round matches played during March this year. In their recent international outings Sri Lanka lost to DPR Korea by 4-0 and Afghanistan by 1-0. They drew 0-0 with Nepal.
Philippines relatively have done well than their opponents, Sri Lanka in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifying round matches. They beat Bangladesh by 3-0 and drew against Myanmar (1-1) and Palestine (0-0).
Sri Lanka coach, Jang Jung who was also present at the press conference to announce his team for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers was optimistic that they can catch up with the speedy Philippines who are well prepared for the big bash.
“They are certainly going to give us (Sri Lanka) the stiffest challenge we could expect. They have prepared well in advance than us. We began our training campaign a little late due to a slight delay in selections but the boys are in good shape. We are confident of giving them a good fight,” Jung said.
With five professional players in their possession Philippine is placed at 155 in FIFA rankings while Sri Lanka lies at 169. Sri Lanka will face Philippines on home and away basis and the second leg of the series will be played in Manila on July 03. Wins at these two matches will be crucial to either team as the winner will advance to play Kuwait on July 20 in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
The Sri Lanka football team
Seated (from left): Nimal Anthony, Lahiru Tharaka, Mohamed Izzadeen, Chathura Gunaratne, Dilki Kumara, Rohana Ruwanthilake (Captain), Fazul Rahuman, Chameera Krishantha, K.L.K.C. Perera, Bandara Warakagoda, Nadeeka Pushpakumara
Standing (from left): Sujan Perera, Kavindu Ishan, Danushka Wijesiri, K. Sudarshana, Tuan Rizni, Mohamed Zain, Nagoor Meera, Manjula Fernando, Janaka Chaminda, Mohamed Nazar, Shafraz Kaiz, Nuwan Priyankara, Thilanka Nandasiri, Sampath Bandara