By Susil Premalal
“Whether the Sri Lanka Football Team wins or ends up as the runners-up at the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championships is a miracle. What matters is giving a good performance,” says new National Coach Nizam Rumy Packeeraly. The tournament will take place in Bangladesh from September 4 to 15 this year.
“There is another six months for the tournament. Still the pool has not been selected. To state whether I will be able to bring back a champion, be runners-up or be in the semi-finals, I am unable to promise. This task is like joining the sky with the earth.”
Rumy Packeer Ali is one of the most experienced football coaches in the country and started his professional coaching career as the Head Coach of Abahani Sports Club in Bangladesh in 1995. He also had performed as Head Coach with many local and foreign clubs in Bangladesh, India and Maldives.
Packeer Ali obtained his AFC “A” License Coaching Certificate in 2008 and worked as the Head Coach of National Youth Team in the years of 2003 and 2007. He served as the Technical Director of FFSL from 2012 — 2014. FFSL, believes that Sri Lankan Football will move towards a new direction under his purview.
Packeer Ali has played football with FFSL President Anura De Silva in the 80’s.
Sunil Senaweera has been appointed as the National Team Manager. He is an experienced football player, coach and FIFA referee, FIFA Referee Assessor and later became FIFA and AFC Match Commissioner. He was also FFSL General Secretary 2003-2004.
“I undertook this post on the invitation of the FFSL. This is a big challenge to me. I expect to produce the old style of football. There are no spectators to watch matches these days. But there is a surprising turn out for veterans’ matches. This means that fans like to see the old style of football.
“I intend to start a new generation of football and to develop the game. My target is to win the SAFF Championship in 2020.
“At the September tournament, we hope to draw all the matches and to go forward with bonus points."
“I implore fans to motivate the players and not to criticise them”.
The Football Federation of Sri Lanka has decided to declare the National Pool on March 25.
They hope to include 60 players from the teams which took part in the Dialog Champions League 2017 teams.
According to World Rankings Sri Lanka is in 200th position. In South Asia Sri Lanka is ranked fourth.
In the SAFF championship history Sri Lanka has emerged champions once in the 1995 Colombo Edition.
In the first tournament Sri Lanka were the runners-up. In 1997 Sri Lanka occupied fourth place, In 2008,2009,2015 Sri Lanka qualified for the semi-finals.