RENOWN PRESIDENT’S TROPHY : Joes retain All Island U-18 Division 1 Football Championship | Sunday Observer

RENOWN PRESIDENT’S TROPHY : Joes retain All Island U-18 Division 1 Football Championship

St. Joseph’s Captain Jason Fernando receiving the Renown President’s trophy from Sri Ranga (Director, Shakthi TV), Robert Peiris (Founder, Renown SC), Hemantha Abeykoon (President, SLSFA), N. S. B. Dissanayake (Secretary, SLSFA) and Rev. Fr. Travis Gabriel (Rector, St. Joseph’s College)
St. Joseph’s Captain Jason Fernando receiving the Renown President’s trophy from Sri Ranga (Director, Shakthi TV), Robert Peiris (Founder, Renown SC), Hemantha Abeykoon (President, SLSFA), N. S. B. Dissanayake (Secretary, SLSFA) and Rev. Fr. Travis Gabriel (Rector, St. Joseph’s College)

Defending champions St. Joseph’s College, Colombo defeated St. Patrick’s College, Jaffna 3goals to 1 in the Final of the Renown President’s Trophy All Island Under 18 Division 1 Football Tournament at the Racecourse International Stadium. The tournament was organized by the Sri Lanka Schools Football Association with Renown SC the leading football club in the country sponsoring the tournament for the second year in a row.

The chief guest for the Final was J. Sri Ranga, Director of Shakthi TV and the guest of honor was Robert Peiris, former Vice President of FFSL and founder of Renown SC. St. Joseph’s were unbeaten on their way to the final as they finished on top of Group A with 4 wins and 2 draws. They trashed last year’s runners up, Holy Cross College, Kalutara by 4-0 in the quarter finals and then got past Zahira College, Colombo in a ding dong battle 5-4 on a tie breaker after the match ended in a three all draw. St. Patrick’s finished top of group B with a record of 5 wins and a solitary loss. In the quarter finals they beat Kinniya Central College by 2-1 before beating St. Peter’s College, Colombo by 1-0 in the semi final.

The good ground conditions enabled an open game of football and the Josephians captained by Jason Fernando settled early and created couple of goal scoring chances which they couldn’t finish off. Their attacking play was soon rewarded as winger Chalana Pramantha’s pin point cross into the penalty area was volleyed in superbly by Sri Lanka youth team player Chamath Rashmitha to open scoring in the 11th minute. The response from the Patricians was swift as they equalized in the 16th minute as Hamilton Haynes’ long range shot caught out the Josephian goalkeeper. The rest of the half was an evenly contested with both teams creating half chances and at half time the score stood at 1-1. With the game hanging in balance St. Joseph’s upped the tempo in the second half and in the 45th minute their star striker, Sri Lanka U-19 player Asela Madushan, scored a wonderful solo goal by beating two defenders before unleashing a low strike which beat the Patrician keeper R. Kijuman. There onwards it was all St. Joseph’s as they dominated the midfield with tenacious tackling and attacked in numbers. St. Patrick’s had no answer to the Josephian onslaught and the team lost it’s shape and their temper as they resorted to reckless tackles. St. Patrick’s skipper Shashikaran

Abeeshan let his frustration to get the better off him as he stamped a Josephian player to be sent off.

Asela Madushan increased the Josephian lead with the third goal in the 65th minute. All he had to do was to tap the ball into an empty net after the Patrician keeper made a mess of an exquisite through pass by Chamath Rashmitha. Referee Tharanga Pushpakumara tried his best to control the proceedings but he was left with no option but to send off Regikumar Shanthan and Nimesh Cooray after they had an altercation in the closing stages of the match. From then onwards St. Joseph’s controlled the game to finish deserving winners by 3-1.

St. Joseph’s were deserving champions as they finished the whole tournament unbeaten and were the leading goal scorers in the tournament with 46 goals whereas the second leading scorers St. Patrick’s had only scored 22 goals. Josephian striker Asela Madushan who led the scoring chart with 16 goals was awarded the top goal scorer award as well as the Best Player Award.

Josephian keeper Marshal Kodikara was named the Best Goal keeper. The winning Josephian team was coached by AFC ‘C’ License holder, Anura Sampath. In the present competition format this is the third time St. Joseph’s have won the All Island Under 18 Championship having won before in 1995 under the captaincy of Sritharan Peiris and in 2016 under the captaincy of Mayuraka Perera. The last few years have been a golden period for Josephian soccer as they have won the Samaposha All Island U-14 football tournament for the last couple of years as well.

Even though the Sri Lanka national football team is languishing in 200th position due to years of mismanagement, football especially in schools has been very popular. Without schools’ football there is no future for football in Sri Lanka and it is sad to see that no corporate sponsor had come forward to sponsor the main tournament in the school football calendar. So credit should go to Crispin Peiris and Robert Peiris, founders of Renown Sports Club for coming forward to sponsoring the tournament this year as well and giving a platform for future football stars of Sri Lanka to emerge as soccer stars. 

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