The ‘mother of all soccer finals’ today
The Football Association final is the ‘mother of all finals’ in the
202 countries that play the most wonderful and popular game - Football.
It is wrapped around pomp amid pageantry and it is not going to be
any different when the Football Federation of Sri Lanka conducts the
Holcim FA Cup final today at the redeveloped City Football Ground at
Slave Island with the kick off at 3.30 p.m.
Many dignitaries grace the FA Cup final whereever it is played, and
in England, the Queen who is a keen soccer fan would be present taking
in the action.
The protagonists who will be battling out in the ninety minutes of
play to carry away the glittering Holcim Cup will be the lads from
Kotahena - Ratnam Sports Club and the Army.
Ratnam will be at a disadvantage because they will be missing a
couple of their stars, while the Army who do not have big guns among
their troops will give their best shot in this final that they have
reached playing some great football.
While we would not want to hazard a guess as to who the winners would
The team playing the better football and accustoming themselves to
the situation should hold aloft the trophy at the end.
When Ratnam is being spoken about, the man who did wonders to make
the club what it is cannot be forgotten. He is none other than the
irrepressible Lawrence Fernando. Fernando was a former a superb national
custodian and later national coach. In difficult times he strained every
nerve and sinew and spent his money to see that the club would keep
When the Ratnam soccerites take the field, they must remember
Fernando and endeavour to win the cup and dedicate it to him in
gratitude for what he did to keep the colours of the club flying.
Having said that, a bit of history of the local FA cup would be worth
mentioning. The Sri Lanka version of the FA Cup was launched in 1949 and
when this final is kicked off it would in its 60th year.
While not much is known of its early days, from the ‘80s to the ‘90s,
the Football Federation had Ceylon Tobacco Co. conducting the tourney
for the Bristol Trophy. The ban on Tobacco and alcohol saw the end of
the Bristol FA Cup.
Then Browns, agents for Sharp electrical appliances took over and the
tourney was conducted for the Sharp FA Cup. At that time Sharp were the
sponsors of Manchester United of England who won the English FA Cup many
After Sharp, the sponsorship was taken over by Holcim Lanka who has
been continuing to cement the tournament and today it is easily the best
tournament conducted with over 112 clubs dribbling.
The man who made the Holcim sponsorship possible is its Chairman and
Managing Director Manilal Fernando who needs no introduction, not only
to the local soccer world, but also Asia and the world.
Fernando is the guardian angel of local soccer and is the Senior Vice
President of the Asian Football Confederation and has also held posts in
the world controlling body - FIFA. It won’t be long before Fernando
takes over the top seat in the AFC
So be there at the final and lap up the excellent soccer that Ratnam
and Army have promised to provide.