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Tamil Eelam lose first match to highly rated Arameans Suryoye

Starting lineup of Tamil Eelam (Pictures: Tamil Guardian)

The Tamil Eelam football team put up an impressive display against Arameans Suryoye, despite losing their opening match at the ConIFA World Cup 2-0.

The match, taking place at the Jamkraft Arena in Ostersund, Sweden, was a lively encounter between the two teams, as they played each other for the first time.

The highly rated Aramean side started the match strong, retaining lots of possession as they tested the Tamil Eelam defence throughout the first half. The team, buoyed by their victory over reigning world champions Kurdistan, were already tipped as the favourites going into the match, leaving Tamil Eelam with their work cut out for them. Despite the physical nature of the game, the Eelam defence remained resolute, thwarting several attacks on goal.

Yet it wasn't all defence for the Tamils, as some swift counter attacking play saw some great chances. Tamil Eelam's French winger Ragavan Prasanth, a constant threat throughout the half, showcased his flair, spinning the ball round a defender, only to see his shot saved by the keeper.

Arameans Suryoye, finalists at the 2008 Viva World Cup, kept testing the Eelam defence though, and they were finally rewarded with a breakthrough goal by Aydin in the 38th minute.

Eelam though, kept fighting, and their best chance came just minutes before the end of the first half, after one of their players was brought down in the opposition penalty area. Mathanraj Uthayanan's spot kick though was saved by Asso, as Tamil Eelam continued to search for an equaliser.

The second half saw Arameans Suryoye add a second within minutes of the restart, after crowding the Tamil Eelam penalty area from a corner and knocking the ball into the back of the net. There was more attacking play from Arameans Suryoye, but Tamil Eelam keeper Umaesh Sundaralingam was equal to it, pulling off a series of brilliant saves.

Tamil Eelam clearly looked to attack on the counter, and had come agonisingly close to scoring, creating a chance after chance, with the wingers providing the mainstay of the attack and only the crossbar denied the team their goal after Majouran Jeganathan’s header.

With just minutes to go, until the end of the match, Majouran Jeganathan managed to break free from the defensive line for a one on one with the keeper. Just as he looked set to score, the Aramean keeper rushed forward from his goal line with a two legged foul on the striker, earning himself a red card. Controversially, the referee judged the foul to have taken place on the edge of the box, but video replays showed that it should have been a penalty.

As the minutes ticked away, Tamil Eelam continued to search for their first goal of the tournament, but despite putting in a solid performance against one of the strongest teams in the tournament, were unable to score.

Speaking to the Tamil Guardian after the match, team manager Ragesh said he was pleased the spirit the team showed, even after falling behind.

“We created chances against one of the favourites to win the tournament, but at this level we need to take every opportunity that we get to score. The players are of course disappointed, but I am pleased with the way the team continued to attack, despite conceding the goals.”

The winner of the Golden Boot on the Isle of Man last year, Gvinthan Navaneethakrishnan was substituted with an injury, with Menan Nagulendran coming on for him, making Gvinthan doubtful for tomorrow’s match.

For more interviews see here.

 The game saw 5 yellow cards and one red, with Tamil Eelam receiving two bookings
 Winger Gvinthan was injured, without opposition interference and had to be substituted