Sri Lankan finish WC qualifiers without single win
Compiled by Ranjika Perera
* Thrashed by South Korea 5-0
* Korea tops the table
* Can be content, though, for their gritty approach
FIFA World Cup Asian Qualifiers
The Asian section of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualification acts as qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, to be held in Qatar, for national teams which are members of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
* Apart from Qatar, who qualified automatically as hosts, a total of four to five slots (four direct slots and one inter-confederation play-off slot) in the final tournament are available for AFC teams.
* There are 47 member associations in AFC, divided into eight Groups.
* The qualification process involves four rounds, where the first two rounds double as the qualification for the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
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Sri Lanka were up against one of the best teams in the world yesterday (9). Yet they came out with a positive note, always looking to counter-attack whenever they got the ball. But what they obviously lacked was the execution which caused them to suffer as many as three goals from the opposition even before half time.
After all, Sri Lanka eventually lost 5-0 against the Koreans yesterday at Goyang, South Korea, only to end their campaign in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers sans at least a single win.
It was a huge blow for the resilient Lankans when their Captain cum goalkeeper Sujan Perera, who had played a huge role between the sticks in the previous encounters of the Qualifiers, went down with a hamstring strain yesterday.
13 goals by the Koreans against SL
The Lankans, who were placed in Group H in the region, played six matches in the World Cup Qualifier second-round this time and lost all of them. Earlier, Sri Lanka beat Macau 3-1 in April 2019 in the first round of the World Cup Qualifiers.
Then in round-two, they lost to South Korea 8-0 on 10 October 2019, Lebanon 3-0 on 15 October 2019, Turkmenistan 2-0 on 19 November 2019, and Lebanon again 3-2 on 5 June, this Saturday, before they went down 5-0 at the hands of the Koreans again yesterday.
An array of goals
With keeper Sujan Perera in trouble, the Koreans piled up the goals. The first one came from their Skipper Kim Shin-wook who hit it clean from close range in the 15th minute.
The second goal was a superb strike from the edge of the box by Lee Dong-gyeong. Minutes before half-time, at the strike of the 43rd minute, Kim scored the third through a spot kick.
Second half started off with the fourth goal for the hosts. RB Leipzig player Hwang Hee-chan had an easy shot on the 53rd minute. Matters got worse for the Lankans when Asikoor Rahuman intentionally stopped the ball from his hand and was rightfully shown a second yellow card, which meant the red card and omission.
Sri Lanka tried hard
The replacements soon got into the field. Sri Lanka reinforced their defence while the Koreans added some more fresh legs, up front. The hosts then went on to find the fifth goal through Jung Sang-bin in the 77th minute, the icing on the cake.
Despite the disappointing result, the Lankans can be happy for themselves for the much-improved display that they showed during the last two games.
Especially, players like Kavindu Ishan put up a commendable display. Young Dellon De Silva, together with Waseem Razeek, too showed good intent, in front. The lessons, if learnt wisely, can prove to be very handy when Sri Lanka will be competing in their next major competition, the SAFF Championship, slated to begin in September this year.