Training session(yesterday) at the Goyang Stadium, South Korea
BY SUSIL PREMALAL
Sri Lanka will take on Lebanon in the 2022 FIFA World Cup Asian zone (second round) qualifying match today. The match is scheduled to kick-off at 11.30 am Sri Lanka time with Asian Football Confederation (AFC) having made all arrangements to stage the event at the South Korea Goyang Stadium.
Sri Lanka were due to play three second-round matches in Group H of the World Cup qualifiers but with North Korea withdrawing, it was reduced to two matches. The other match is against South Korea on June 9. This is Sri Lanka’s first international football encounter since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Their last outing was a FIFA World Cup qualification match against Turkmenistan in November 2019 which they lost 2-0 in Kopetaag, Ashgabat. Sri Lanka have not won a single match in the World Cup qualification round so far, whereas South Korea and Lebanon have got seven points in group H. According to FIFA world rankings, Sri Lanka is placed 204th while Lebanon is ranked 93. The Sri Lanka team which arrived in Seoul on June 1 resumed training after a short break on June 3.
This is the first tie against a foreign team by Sri Lanka since the arrival of Head Coach Amir Alagic in preparation for the World Cup qualifiers and the SAFF Cup. “We can expect a high standard technically since the team has got a new coach while the inclusion of four experienced players including Sujan Perera could boost the competitive spirit of the side,” said Anura de Silva, a former national captain and president of Football Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka lost the first leg of their encounter against Lebanon 3-0.