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Football: Mahinda Rajapaksa Trophy Seychelles sneak past hosts Sri Lanka |15 November 2021

Football: Mahinda Rajapaksa Trophy     Seychelles sneak past hosts Sri Lanka

Defender Warren Mellie shows of the man-of-the-match award

The Seychelles national team sneaked past hosts Sri Lanka in a narrow 1-0 win thanks to a Warren Mellie 68th minute goal at the Racecourse stadium in Colombo in the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa football tournament.

Seychelles survived an early scare in the opening minute when Sri Lanka almost got off to a sensational start from the kick-off, striker Dillon De Silva broke through but his shot was blocked at the near post by goalkeeper Alvin Michel.

Luckily the players of coach Vivian Bothe weathered this early storm to go on and control this half and should have broken the deadlock in the 14th minute as Elijah Tamboo latched onto a long ball from captain Benoit Marie but his shot was parried by Sri Lanka goalkeeper Sujan Perera. The loose ball fell to Jean Yves Ernesta whose hooked shot was handled by a Sri Lankan defender and Qatari referee Abdulhadi Alroweli pointed to the penalty spot.

Seychelles captain Benoit Marie stepped up to send goalkeeper Perera the wrong way but his low drive went agonisingly wide of the right post much to his disbelief and to the relief of the opposition.

This penalty miss did not affect the Seychelles team’s momentum as they continued to dominate this encounter and in the 25th minute, Dean Mothée saw his dipping free kick from 25 metres out crash onto the crossbar with the Sri Lankan goalkeeper back pedalling.

Just past the half hour mark, Ernesta cut inside his marker on the left to curl a beautiful shot which produced a brilliant finger-tip save from goalkeeper Perera as the first half ended goalless.

The second half started on a bad note when Seychelles’ skipper Benoit Marie was flattened by a cynical elbow to the mouth from Mohamed Aman and play was halted as the Seychelles team expressed their frustration with the official for signaling the foul but not booking the player. Marie had to be replaced by debutant Dean Balette.

In the 63rd minute, substitute Josip Ravigna, who had come on for Tamboo, raced clear but was hassled to the ground by defender Duckson Pulas but the official waved play on much to the disgust of the Seychelles camp.

Five minutes later, the Seychelles team went ahead from Ravigna’s floated corner in the penalty box and stand-in captain Warren Mellie guided the ball into the net to silence the home crowd with a 1-0 advantage.

Ravigna should have got on the scoresheet in the 71st minute from Ernesta’s pinpoint cross but he directed his free header over the crossbar but the Seychelles team were happy to close down all avenues as they kept Sri Lanka at bay to register their first win in this tournament to propel them onto four points and into second position on the table behind Bangladesh on goal difference. Bangladesh, who played out a 1-1 draw with Seychelles in their first match, beat Maldives 2-1 in the early kick-off on Saturday.

Goalscorer Mellie was voted man-of-the-match for his no-nonsense defending and he dedicated this title to his teammate, goalkeeper and captain Ian Ah-Kong, who underwent a knee operation in Sri Lanka on Friday and also to his family.

Seychelles head coach Vivian Bothe was very pleased with their result when he spoke to the media after this match.

“I feel we got our tactics absolutely right for this match and our defence was alert to any threat and we managed to nullify our opponents and we could have won by a wider margin if we had scored in the first half. We must now stay focused for our last match as we are yet guaranteed a place in the final as all will depend in the final group matches,” head coach Bothe told the press.

As for Sri Lankan head coach Amir Alagic, he felt his team gave their maximum but which was not good enough and thought that the Seychelles team had more maturity which helped them to win this match.

Seychelles will face the Maldives on Tuesday at 2.30pm Seychelles time while hosts Sri Lanka will do battle with group leaders Bangladesh at 7.30pm to decide the two finalists for this tournament.

The final is slated for November 19.



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