Sri Lanka Face South Korea in Battle for Pride
By Mustaq Sydeen
Appearing for one last time in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, Sri Lanka will be playing solely for pride, and will look to sign off with a respectable result against higher-ranked South Korea in a do-or-die World Cup qualifying round match at Goyang Stadium, South Korea on Wednesday (9). The Islanders will step on to the field with their morale high when they take on Son Heung-min’s side, after positive signs emerged in Saturday’s clash against Lebanon.
A first half strike from Waseem Razeek gave Sri Lanka hopes of creating an upset, but it ultimately turned out to be so-near-yet-so-far as the 93rd ranked Lebanese team struck thrice in the latter stages of the first half to outwit the underdogs. Sri Lanka custodian and skipper Sujan Perera believes the game against mighty South Korea is a challenge and a life time opportunity for the players to showcase their skills. “South Korea is among the top three teams in South Asia.
This encounter is a challenge to our players, and at the same time, a lifetime opportunity to play against a team like South Korea. As we did in the Lebanon match, we are hoping to put up a good performance against our mighty opponents,” added the skipper. In terms of form, comparing the last match Amir Alagic’s boys were very consistent in creating chances and preventing their opponents from doing so against them.
If Sri Lanka are to exorcise the demons of South Korea, the likes of Duckson Puslas, Asikoor Rahuman, Chalana Chameera and Marvin Hamilton will need to quickly gain control of the ball in the middle. Moreover, the islanders will also look to counter attack through 19-year-old Dilon de Silva and Waseem Razeek, who both had a great outing against Lebanon.
The duo will once again look to perform at a similar level, but with more consistency, if they are to end the tournament on a positive note. Their experience and goal scoring prowess could prove decisive for the islanders. Sri Lanka will have a mountain to climb with nothing left but just to play for pride.
They will look to counter moves, while at the same time hope to keep the final deficit as low as possible. The Islanders have failed to secure a single point, and the brace from the boot of Waseem Razeek were the only two goals the team has scored in this qualifying cycle. According to experts, beyond a nearimpossible miracle, South Korea are primed to walk out as winners against a 204th ranked Sri Lankan team. “Against such a highly skillful, fit and intelligent team like Korea we cannot defend 90 minutes, otherwise you know you will be suffocated. So, we will adopt another approach as much as we can.
Sri Lanka’s skills, intelligence and fitness levels have improved and that’s the major difference between this outfit and previous outfits of the National team,” said Sri Lanka tactician Amir Alagic at the pre-match briefing. On the other hand, Son Heung-min’s South Korea is coming into this clash with a commendable 5-0 win against Turkmenistan, and will look to continue their winning momentum against Sri Lanka to advance to the next round of the qualifying process.
In their previous meeting on 10 October 2019, they hammered eight goals against Sri Lanka with Son Heung-min scoring twice, Kim Shinwook finding the net four times, and Hwang Hee-chan and Kwon Changhoon adding one each. This will be the fourth meeting between the sides, and Korea Republic have a 100% record, with all three previous games ending in victory.