A highly rated Barawa team managed to beat Tamil Eelam in their opening match of the 2018 CONIFA World Cup campaign in London this week.
The opening game of the tournament, the highly anticipated match was a great spectacle, with supporters of both sides in the crowd. To add to the occasion, the game was officiated by former Euro 2016 and Champions League Final referee, Mark Clattenburg, at the Bromley FC Stadium.
Though Tamil Eelam faced a squad that included young professional players in English leagues, the game opened up in disappointing fashion for the leopards as the opposition capitalised with their strong attacking field.
Despite an early goal for the African team, Tamil Eelam responded well, with a few openings for the striker, Nirunthan Sivananthan. The Canadian-based player looked the most potent threat going forward, but was unable to find the equaliser.
The best chance for the team came from Gvinthan ‘GV’ Navaneethakrishnan, following some brilliant interplay from the Tamil Eelam forwards. The mini magician, who looked threatening throughout the match, was played through with a one on one chance with the opposition keeper, from a narrow angle. The Tamil Eelam number 10 improvised brilliantly with a wonderful chip looping over the keeper, only to just hit the underside of the crossbar.
Barawa took full advantage of the missed opportunity and moments later doubled their lead, from an unnecessary penalty. They were able to carry the momentum to the end of the half, as their marauding wingers caused the Tamil Eelam defence plenty of problems, which eventually lead to the third goal. A stunning lobbed effort from 30 yards out gave the team from Africa a comfortable lead before the half time interval.
Following the break, Tamil Eelam looked the brighter of the two teams, while retaining the ball and utilising the wingers. GV was able to find space on the wing and delivered manya cross into the opposition penalty area, but the imposing Barawa keeper was on fine form, dealing with the aerial battles well. Manager Ragesh Nambiar hoped to ignite a new spark with the introduction of young debutants Janothan Perananthan and Nitharshan Ratnam. The change injected some much needed energy into the leopards who came agaonisly close to scoring once again, with the Barawa defence making a goal line clearance of Janothan’s brilliant header. Despite a few promising chances, another momentary of lack of concentration eventually lead to a second penalty, giving the Barawa team a 4-0 lead. A pumped Barawa team kept probing the Tamil Eelam goal, but keeper Umaesh Sundaralingam pulled out some brilliant stops to ensure the score-line was kept intact at full time.
Despite a few moments of brilliance and nice interplay between the Tamil Eelam squad, the team did not manage to capitalise upon the chances created and will look to fix their defensive errors for their upcoming games. The Barawa team though, displayed just why they were so highly rated coming into the tournament, and their strong start bodes well for them. Tamil Eelam will look at the introduction of the two young newcomers as a positive injection for their squad, which still remains young, growing and with plenty of potential.
See more coverage of all of Tamil Eelam's matches on Legacy Media here.
All photographs courtesy of CONIFA.