By Susil Premalal
Approval has been sought from the Institute of Sports Medicine (ISM) to reconvene the disbanded national football pool from January 3.
The Football Federation of Sri Lanka (FFSL) is hopeful of getting approval to resume training at the National Football Training Centre in Baddegana.
The 22-member national pool has not been training for the last three months because of the second wave of COVID-19 in the country. Sri Lanka is scheduled to play the second round of the Asian Zone FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar qualifiers in North Korea and at home on March 25 and 30.
Amir Alagic, the foreign coach of the team, came to Sri Lanka early this year in preparation for the three World Cup qualifying matches and SAFF (South Asian Football Federation) Championship to be held in Bangladesh. However, he has not been able to devote much attention to the national team because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since Alagic has said it is mandatory to reconvene the national pool if Sri Lanka is to participate in the World Cup qualifiers, the FFSL has requested permission from ISM. The federation has made arrangements to conduct PCR tests on the players who have been residing at home before training commences in Baddegana.
Sri Lanka’s third World Cup qualifying match will be in June. This is the final match for Sri Lanka scheduled by FIFA. Sri Lanka lost all the matches in the first round of FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying matches in the Asian zone.
Meanwhile, out of the 12 foreign nationals earmarked for the national pool, only two players have obtained visas as of now. The FFSL is hopeful the others will be granted citizenship to play for Sri Lanka. The FFSL hopes to expand the national pool to 34 once these foreigners get Sri Lankan visas.