SL over-40 record second win

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Sri Lanka Masters over 40 hockey team recorded their second win in the Masters World Cup history beating Italy 4-3 in a ranking game at the sport’s prestigious veterans’ tournament held in Nottingham, England.

The over-40 team lost all six Group A round robin matches – mostly against the World’s top European teams – by big margins, but managed to put its house in order by winning the crucial match against Italy in the 14-nation tournament.

Italy also lost all six Group B matches, but by margins less than Sri Lanka.

The match was crucial for both teams to avoid being ranked last in this year’s Masters World Cup.

The game was evenly poised, but Sri Lanka took the lead in the 11th minute when Sampath Subasinghe scored the first goal off a rebound from a penalty corner hit by vice-captain and center forward Nadith Kudagama.

Duncan Devendra scored the second goal via a penalty stroke in the 17th minute and made it 2-0. However, Italy fought back and Andrea Graziano scored. Defender Sanjay Edgar scored the third goal just before half time and Sri Lanka to ended the first half 3-1.

Italy fought back hard in the second half with some nail-biting moments. The European team beat Sri Lanka 2-1 in the last 2018 Masters’ World Cup, scored in the 51st minute through Malluzzo Michele.

However, an excellent forwards combination of Nadith Kudagama, Mahesh Matiwala, and Duncan Devendra, breached the Italian defence to score Sri Lanka’s fourth goal in the 60th minute. Devendra netted the ball to score his fourth goal in the 2022 World Cup.

Italy skipper Alessandro Onano scored in the 67th minute of the game and reduced the margin to 4-3. There were saw some nervous moments for Sri Lanka in the last three minutes as Italy forwards breached the defence many times, but they held steady to finish the game in their favour to be ranked 13th in the 14-nation World Cup.

Sri Lanka were ranked 14th in the last World Cup held in Barcelona, Spain in 2018, which saw the participation of 15 nations.

It was Sri Lanka over 40 team’s second win the Masters’ World Cup history. Their first win was against Denmark 2-1 in Spain on their debut.

The teams’ main sponsor was Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau and co-sponsor was Nippon Paint Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, while SriLankan Airlines was the official airline partner for the team. 

The team, which was in the toughest group, lost to Germany 11-0 in the first game, but fought back well against the mighty France to minimize the margin of loss by 5-1 goals. However, it saw four disastrous defeats from then onwards, losing to host England 12-0, Wales 12-1, Ireland 16-0 and South Africa 15-0.

The squad comprised only 16, 14 players plus coach and manager, instead of 18, due to visa rejections for at least three players. When four players were injured, the coach and team manager were forced to play

Over-35 Men’s and over-40 Women’s teams failed to impress this year.

The over-35 Men was ranked last among the 10 nations after losing the ranking game against Wales 0-11. In the group games, they lost to Spain by 9-0, host England 15-0, Ghana 11-1 and South Africa 18-0. The only goal (against Ghana) was scored by Rasiah Sathya.

 The over-35 men’s team also comprised only 15 players instead 18.

 The women’s team, led by Manoji Pradeepika Koralage, competed in the over-40-category and had a similar experience. The team lacked a couple of key players due to visa rejections. They lost their first game against Ghana 5-0, followed by losses to USA 9-0, Germany 15-0, Scotland 11-0 and England 22-0. They also lost the last ranking game against Spain 13-0.

 The over-40 women’s team was sponsored by Hirdaramani Group.

 In all age categories, host England won the finals, while Ireland (0ver-35 women), South Africa (Over-35 men), Argentina (Over-45 women) and Australia (Over-45 men) finished runners-up in the 10-day tournament, which saw the participation of a total 19 countries in different age categories.