By: Harsha Amarasinghe
Air Force Sports Club will be eyeing a top-half finish as they are gearing up for the 2023/24 Inter-Club League Rugby Tournament.
The Airmen managed a mid-table finish in the previous season which should go down as one of their best seasons in recent years, but Head Coach Asela Deshapriya targets a top-half finish for the team from Ratmalana.
"The Air Force team performed well in the last season and became fifth in the tournament. This year also they practice well and are confident enough to face any opponent. This season our target is to finish in the top four," Deshapriya told the Daily Mirror.
Hooker Parakrama Rathnayake will captain the Air Force SC side this season while number eight Saraka Warella will be his deputy. The Airmen have also secured five outstanding school leavers ahead of the Inter-Club season.
"We have got four solid players from D. S. Senanayake College in the form of Hasindu Premasiri, Vishal Akalanka, Nishan Peiris and Shamal Maleesha. In addition to that we have also got S. Thomas’ College's Shenal Fernando," the Head Coach revealed.
The Air Force Grounds in Ratmalana is one of the most glamorous rugby venues in Sri Lanka, but some visiting teams find it very difficult to play their style of rugby with the strong breeze across the field.
"Yes, it's true that some teams find it difficult at Ratmalana with the sort of wind. But our players are well prepared for this especially the stadium being our home venue. At the same time, I don't think it's a massive disadvantage for away teams as well," claimed Deshapriya.
According to the Head Coach, the defensive skills of the players could be vital for Air Force SC in this season.
"For me, defensive skills are really important, especially for a team like us. So, I have planned to develop defensive skills as well as game management skills. But, I believe my biggest responsibility is to develop the individual skills of each and every player," Deshapriya revealed his plans for the Inter-Club season.
When questioned about the strength of his team, Deshapriya said he has a very balanced squad.
"We have a good set of forwards and very skilful backs, so I think it's a very balanced squad and I am looking forward to this season," he concluded.