Lankan stickers confront Bangladesh in curtain raiser
HOCKEY: Sri Lanka will take on Bangladesh in the curtain
raiser match of the 10th South Asian Games men's hockey tournament which
begins on August 21 at the Nandamithra Ekanayake Stadium in Matale.
The Asian heavyweights and arch rivals India and Pakistan will clash
in the second match of the day at the same venue. Sri Lanka's second
match will be against the 2004 South Asian Games runners-up India on
August 22 while Pakistan take on Bangladesh in another group fixture on
the same day.
Sri Lanka's third match of the competition will be against the
defending champions Pakistan on August 23 followed by the final league
game between India and Bangladesh. The consolation final for the third
and fourth placed teams and the final will be worked off on August 25.
The Sri Lanka men's hockey team is confident of putting up a good
performance and their target will be to win a bronze medal. However if
the Indians and the Pakistanis decide to field a second string team then
the Lankans do have a great chance of even making it to the grand final.
The Sri Lanka men's hockey team is captained by T. M. P. B. Abeyratne
of Sri Lanka Army Sports Club and they have been training hard under the
guidance of Brigadier H. Zaheer (head coach), A. N. Perera (director
coaching), H. M. Mulafer (national coach), and assistant coaches Sarath
Wimalasinghe, Thilak Wimalasinghe and Neelananda Ittapana.
The men's hockey tournament will be of great significance for Sri
Lanka as they will be competing in this sport only for the second time
having made their first appearance at the 1995 South Asian Games which
were held in Chennai.
This time they are determined to make an impact after a successful
training session in Chennai where they had the opportunity of playing a
series of matches against some of the leading clubs. The Sri Lanka men's
hockey team was rated among the top three in Asia some time back and the
present team is out to redeem some of the lost glory with an improved
performance. This years tournament was originally scheduled to be worked
off in Colombo but was later shifted to Matale.
In fact the Nandamithra Ekanayake grounds have been redeveloped and
upgraded to international standard to meet the demand with a new astro
turf and a new pavilion. The Sri Lanka team who have been training here
for quite some time are hoping that they could exploit the home
advantage and win a medal for their country.
The Sri Lanka men's hockey team: T. M. P. B. Abeyratne (Sri Lanka
Army), C. Jayasuriya (Hatton National Bank), P. G. Jayaratne (Sri Lanka
Police SC), A. B. Karunaratne (Sri Lanka Army SC), N. D. G. Dissanayake
(Matale HA), K. S. S. Perera (Sri Lanka Air Force SC), A. M. S.
Wickremasinghe (Sampath Bank), W.A. P. Priyantha (Sri Lanka Air Force
SC), D. Weerasuriya (Matale HA), H. D. Dharmaratne (Sri Lanka Army SC),
H. S. Jayasinghe (Sri Lanka Army SC), S. M. M. S. Mohideen (Matale HA),
H. S. Hettiarachchi (Colombo HA), N. Gazalli (Hatton National Bank), P.
N. Cramer (Sri Lanka Army SC), Dhanuka Abeyratne (Sri Lanka Air Force
SC), N. Hewage (Matale HA), C. E. Sumanaratne (Kandy HA), B.
Sathiskumara (Sri Lanka Police SC), I. K. Jayasundera (Sri Lanka Army
SC), T. Perera (Sri Lanka Army SC) and Thusitha Ratnasiri (Sri Lanka Air