CR & FC will be out to continue their winning streak when they clash against arch rivals Havelocks Sports Club for the Commander Eustace Matthysz Trophy at Longden Place on Saturday.
Brimming with confidence after winning all five matches in a row so far in the tournament, the Red jerseys led by Suhiru Anthony will face an tough task in this game before they meet the mighty Kandy SC next week in their final first leg league game.
After a massive win over Navy last week, CR are due to make a few changes to their start up line. They will miss the services of Achitha Radeeshan due an ankle injury, which might sideline him for a few weeks. Adeesha Weeratunga, another dynamic player, will replace Achitha, while Kavindu Costa and Thenuka Nanayakkara who were on the bench at the commencement of last week’s game, will be included in the start up line. Apart from this change CR is really pumped up and will go flat out to win this game, which will subsequently boost their skill levels and lift their morale for the all-important top of the table clash against Kandy SC next week in the hill capital.
“I am happy the team has jelled well with the progress of the tournament. We had some stiff competition before settling down, but with our gradual progress, we are confident that we could turn tables,” said coach Dushanth Lewke.
CR has accumulated 29 points so far, which is one point less than Kandy who have 30 points and continue to remain top of the points table.
This game which will be played amidst open gates is likely to attract more crowds. The winner will annex the Commander Eustace Matthysz Trophy which CR has won 13 times to Havelocks’ 4 in the 17 matches played so far.
Jaliya Wijeratne, MD of First Capital Equities will grace the occasion as Chief Guest, while former Sri Lanka skipper and flanker Dr. Indrajith Coomaraswamy and scrum half Hanzil Samad, who represented the 1974 Sri Lanka team which were runners up to Japan at the Asiad, will grace the occasion as Guests of Honour.
On the other hand, Havelocks possess some of the best players in the competition. Skipper Azmir Fajudeen has shown great character as the leader, both in attack and defence.
Last week against Kandy they made an array of mistakes, while failing to tackle their rivals which enabled Kandy to score twice in quick succession. Nevertheless, their head coach Saliya Kumara is still optimistic they can still defeat any team in the competition provided his boys get their act together.
They will field the same start up line and will adopt a strategic plan to match their rivals numbers and look to bounce back and win this game.
“Well, we made some mistakes in the Kandy game. At this level, we have to minimize our mistakes. We have rectified our lapses and are ready to put up a good show against CR. The boys are pretty determined to give their best for the team as this game is going to be a crucial one for us,” said Saliya Kumara.
Kandy take on Navy in Welisara
Table leaders Kandy will scrum down with Navy on the same day in Welisara. This will virtually be a one-sided affair and Kandy are likely to rest some of their key players. The high riding Kandy outfit will make this game as an opportunity to test their players on the bench before their big game against CR next week.
Navy has a big issue with injuries to some of their players. They were given a torrid time by CR after holding them in the first half. Coach Viper Guneratne said that they are fielding a young side where the average age is 22. After losing 16 players from the last season’s squad, they are finding it difficult to rejuvenate as a team. According to him, it’s important that the boys enjoy playing the game and mature as a major force next season.
Air Force host Army
On Friday, Air Force will play hosts to Army, which should turn out to be a good contest. Both teams had close games last week against CH and FC and Police respectively.
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