By Harsha Amarasinghe and Sandun Kodithuwakku
CR and FC have been strengthened by the signing of Riza Mubarak and Sandun Herath after their Captain Kavindu Perera and Vice-Captain Tarinda Ratwatte both crossed over to arch rivals Kandy Sports Club.
The Red Shirts are led by Sri Lanka 15-A-Side Skipper Omalka Gunarathne this season, and the former Isipathana College number eight claimed that their prime target is to initiate a winning culture.
“There was a lot of expectations last season and there is no doubt we had a great team also, but unfortunately we could not produce the performance of a title-winning team, so this season what we want is to maintain a winning-culture,” Red Shirts Captain told Daily Mirror.
One of the key problems the Longden Place Club faced last season was the lack of experience in their pack and the arrival of Sharo Fernando is expected to give them a real boost.
“The Club has brought in a lot of players and they are all good players so this season we must up their game,” claimed Omalka.
Having led all the age-group teams at Isipathana, Omalka went on to lead the Sri Lanka Junior Team and eventually the Sri Lanka 15-A-Side Team earlier this year. The big number eight is now set to become the youngest captain in the ‘A’ Division League this season.
“Experience in leading always helps you, but I personally believe Inter-Schools, Inter-Club and National Team are three completely different levels.”
“But having played with most of these players over the years it has really helped me as a captain,” added the former Isipathana player.
Meanwhile, CR and FC Head Coach Dushantha Lewke claimed that the Longden Place Club has ‘lost a lot of experience’ in losing the senior duo Ratwatte and Perera, but delighted with the seniors and the school leavers the club has signed so far including Wesley College Captain Murshid Zubair and Royal College League-winning Captain Thulaib Hassen along with fly half Kavindu Nandila and Fadil Adahan.
“There is no doubt that we have lost a lot of experience losing Tarinda (Ratwatte) and Kavindu (Perera) which is why being able to sign Sandun (Herath) and Riza (Mubarak) was very important. We have also brought in some exciting players who may not be available for the first half of the competition due to their commitments with the Sri Lanka Under-19 Team, but I am sure they will be able to contribute when they get their opportunity,” said Lewke who guided Royal College to League glory in the last couple of Inter-Schools seasons.
Player to watch out for
Dinuk Amarasinghe – one man who was directly responsible for Havelock Sports Club’s successful campaign last season.
Daily Mirror Prediction
Losing Tarinda Ratwatte is a big blow because of the creativity he brings into a side, in addition to being a top place-kicker, but their management probably made the right decision - no player is bigger than the club!