Wednesday, 24 September 2014 00:13
By Shamseer Jaleel
The Sri Lankan Sevens rugby team, fresh off the second leg of the Asian Sevens, will be looking for a better performance at the Asian Games as they taking wing to Incheon, South Korea on 25 September.
Top teams Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong will be standing in the way of Sri Lanka’s hopes for a medal.
At the Asian Sevens the Sri Lankans almost shocked tournament-winners Hong Kong in the semifinals when they were edged out 10-7 in a tense battle. This was only the second time that Sri Lanka went down to Hong Kong with a one try difference, the other instance occurring at the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010.
The rugby event at the Asian Games will be held for both men and women with six medals up for grabs at the Namdong Asiad Rugby Field.
The tournament will take place from 30 September to 2 October. Sri Lanka will field only a men’s team this time around. They will play Taipei on the opening day followed by Lebanon and South Korea on the second day.
Twelve men’s teams and 10 women’s team will take part at the 2014 Incheon Games in South Korea. In 1998 and 2002 it was a fifteen-a-side tournament, with the initial one taking place in Bangkok.
South Korea emerged champions with Japan securing second place. Taipei clinched third position with Sri Lanka settling for fourth. Four years later in Busan, South Korea, it was a repeat of the 1998 results once more. In 2006 at Doha-Qatar it was changed to play the shorter version of the game. Japan won the gold, South Korea secured the silver and China claimed the bronze. Four years later in Guangzhou in China, Japan secured the gold with Hong Kong claiming the silver. South Korea settled for the bronze.
Sri Lanka’s preparation for the Asian Games was far from satisfactory as the team’s Head Coach Cakacloa Stefano (Fiji) was not with the team after the Malaysian Sevens due to him being selected to the Fijian national Sevens squad training for the IRB Sevens World Series 2014/2015, which will start shortly in Australia next month.
According to reliable sources, the team is being looked after by Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU) President Asanga Seneviratne who is also a former Sri Lanka Sevens player, coach and manager. Both Richard Dharmapala and Shenal Dias will not be available for selections and their places are likely to be taken by Mithun Hapugoda
Probable squad for Asian Games: Fazil Marija (Capt.), Anurudha Wilvara, Nigel Ratwatte, Gayan Weeraratne, Lavanga Perera, Shehan Pathirane, Dhanushka Ranjan, Sudharshan Muthuthanthri, Mithun Hapugoda, Dinusha Chathuranga and Yoshitha Rajapaksa and Srinarth Sooriyabandara
Pool A: Japan, Malaysia, Thailand. Saudi Arabia
Pool B: Hong Kong, China, Philippines, Pakistan
Pool C: Korea, Sri Lanka, Chinese Taipei, Lebanon
Pool A: China, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Uzbekistan
Pool B: Kazakhstan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos