Maldives will begin their SAFF Suzuki Cup 2018 against island neighbor’s Sri Lanka in the second Group B match today in Dhaka.
Both have won SAFF Championship once in their history. Maldives won against India in 2008 and Sri Lanka beat India in 1995 final.
Sri Lanka began the tournament 2-0 defeat against the hands of India. Today’s game will be a crucial match for them. If they lose, they will be the first team to depart.
Maldives team’s average age for this tournament is 23.7 years.
Maldives camped Qatar for twenty-five days and played a friendly against Qatar second division club which they won 4-3. They also arranged a friendly match with Pakistan which was cancelled later.
Sri Lanka camped Japan & South Korea ahead of this tournament and did the preparation well. They also played two friendlies with Lithuania where they drew one and lost one. They also played a friendly against tournament host Bangladesh 1-0 in a friendly and won in front of thirty thousand spectators.
Sri Lanka’s experienced goalkeeper Sujan Perera who plays in Maldives league will be the key figure for them.
Lots of Maldivian were shocked to hear that their Captain and all-time top scorer of SAFF Championship history Ali Ashfaq was omitted from the squad by coach Petar Segrt.
He also withdrew experienced midfielder Mohamed Umair stating he was injured. Later, we came to know that he actually wasn’t injured.
WHAT MANAGERS SAY:
Malivian Coach Petar Segrt Said that, “This is a new team and a new generation, and they are very disciplined and focused. I hope they bring this country a good footballing future.”
He also said that they have seen Sri Lankan football team develop a lot in the last few months, and India’s youth team beat Argentina, and they have to respect that. There are no clear favorites for him in this group.
Sri Lanka Coach Nizam Packeer Ali said, they concentrating on the issues they had on the midfield and working on improving in the goalkeeping department too. He also said their goalkeeper Sujan Perera knows every single player in Maldives squad and they will use his experience well.
“We can beat Maldives and it is possible. I will not hide that. This is going to be an entertaining match. They are our neighbors and we know the weakness of Maldives team.” He added.
HEAD TO HEAD
Maldives and Sri Lanka faced each other 18 times in all competitions. Maldives winning 7, Lanka winning 3 and the rest ended in draw.
They also met 6 times in SAFF Championship before. Maldives won 5 of them and ended the next in draw.
Sri Lanka scored just twice in those 6 meetings while Maldives scored 20 times.
Maldives humiliated Sri Lanka in the recent meeting by 10-0. Ali Ashfaq scored six times in that match.
The Last Time Sri Lanka beat Maldives is back in 2002. They beat Maldives 1-0 in an International Friendly that year.