Sports

Ekanayake scores double to guide Sri Lanka to semi-finals

- PRAJWAL OLI, BIRATNAGAR

Mar 16, 2019-

RM Chalani Kumari Ekanayake scored a brace as Sri Lanka defeated Maldives 2-0 to secure a semi-final berth in the fifth SAFF Women’s Championship at the Shahid Rangashala on Friday.

The Sri Lanka win also confirmed India’s place in the last four. India had defeated Maldives 6-0 on Wednesday in the three-team group. It is the third time that Sri Lanka had made it to the semi-finals after 2012 and 2014 editions of the biennial event.

Maldives became the second team after Bhutan to exit from group stage. India and Sri Lanka will clash on Sunday which will decide the Group ‘B’ winners. India currently occupy the top position on the basis of numbers of goals scored.

Sri Lanka open the scoring in the 40th minute and doubled their advantage in the 50th. Sri Lanka skipper IL Erandi K Liyanage squandered numerous scoring chances. In the 10th minute her shot from edge of the area went straight at the hands of goalkeeper Aminath Leeza. Leeza also denied a 30-yard freekick from Liyanage in the 13th minute.

Liyanage then ended up firing above bar in the 23rd minute with only custodian Leeza on her way. Ekanayake finally broke the deadlock in the 40th as she gave finishing touch to Liyanage freekick after Maldives goalkeeper Leeza blocked the shot which fell just ahead of goalline. Ekanayake doubled their advantage five minutes after restart as she made a perfect one-touch finish to a sublime pass from M Achala Sanjeewani Perera. In the 65th minute, Maldives skipper Fadhuwa Zahir shot wide from the post.

Maldives manager Abdulla Yasmin was happy to have won the match. “It was not an easy match but the girls played really well,” said Yasmin. “They followed the guidance and tactics really well,” he said. He also said that his side would come up with different strategy against India in the next match. “We will definitely play for win against India with different strategy as they are strong and speedy team,” he said.

Maldives coach Athif Mohamed said his team missed the services of three key players. “I had to reshuffle the players’ position due to absence of two central defenders and a midfielder due to injuries,” he said.

Points Table

Team    P    W    D    L    GF    GA    Pts

India     1    1    0    0    6    0    3

Sri Lanka    1    1    0    0    2    0    3

Maldives    2    0    0    2    0    8    0

Published: 16-03-2019 09:51

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