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Tamil Eelam shows resilience in stunning victory

Tamil Eelam in the pre-match lineup

Tamil Eelam made a great start to their Tynwald Hill international  Football tournament campaign today, in a thrilling match, which saw them come back from a one goal deficit to secure a 5-3 victory.

Players celebrate with Team Manager Ragesh Nambiar after a brilliant game

The team and its fans arrived early to the stadium in anticipation of their first game of the torunament.

Tamil Eelam players warm up while Sealand players and Tamil Eelam supporters look on

Following light training sessions, players from both teams made their way back on to the pitches for the 7.30pm kick-off.

The teams lined up for their respective national anthems, and proceeded to exchange pennants and take team photographs.

Captain Mayo and the team just before kick-off

The game kicked off at a high tempo, with Tamil Eelam working hard to win possession and create scoring oppertunities.
 Goalkeeper Umaesh Sundaralingam holds fort whilst midfielders put in a hard graft

Tamil Eelam began to pressure the Sealand defence with winger Gvinthan Navaneethakrishnan winning a notable amount of free-kicks, as he overloaded his opposing defender.

 Gvinthan attacks the wing

Tamil Eelam scored their first goal of the tournament within 15 minutes after the former AS Roma striker Panushanth Kulenthiran, was played through by the left back Kevin Nagendra, to exploit the left wing and smoothly convert a one on one opportunity.
 Kulenthiran is played through to face a one on one with the Sealand keeper...
...before slotting the ball into the back of the net through the legs of the keeper

Though Sealand managed to equalise against the run of play, they were met with a spectacular response from striker Panushanth Kulenthiran, who put Tamil Eelam in the lead by spinning away from two defenders and calmly curling a shot into the top right corner from outside the box.

 Kulenthiran makes space in the box for himself...
 ...and curls a shot into the back of the net

The 2-1 lead was short lived as Sea Land managed exploit a short lapse of concentration in Tamil Eelam’s defence and equalise from kick-off.  The teams finished the first half level at 2-2.  
Tamil Eelam started the second half with the same resolve as the first, with Gajendran ‘Kagi’ Balamurali making the Sealand keeper work hard to keep the scores level.
Sealand, once again, scored against the run of play, taking a 2-3 lead from a low driven free-kick that was deflected into the goal.
Without being deterred, Tamil Eelam continued their relentless attacks on the Sealand defence with only the post denying Kulenthiran an equaliser. The left midfielder, Ragavan Prashanth, posed a constant threat on the left wing, breaking through on several occasions and forcing spectacular saves from the Sealand keeper. Tamil Eelam held vast periods of possession exhibiting intricate passing in front of Sealands goal, continuing to unwaveringly chase the equaliser.
As Sealand hung on to their lead, under 19 Watford Football Club youth academy player, Mahy Nambiar, Mathanraj Uthayanan and Mohamed Shazil Niyas, were brought on to change the dynamics of the game. 
The reshuffled team continued to relentlessly pressurised the Sealand back four, forcing the keeper to make spectacular one on one saves.  The intense threat on goal proved dividends, when after a corner was given to Tamil Eelam, the captain, Majouran Jegananthan,  scored a well deserved goal by heading in the equaliser from a precisely delivered corner.
 Team captain Majo heads in the equalising goal
The equaliser catalysed the Tamil Eelam attack as they overwhelmingly terrorised the Sealand defense who resorted to unashamedly fouling Tamil Eelam players as they persistently broke through. The unwavering pressure paid off, with a Tamil Eelam striker, in the last 10 minutes of the game, winning a clear penalty.
In the final minutes of the game Sealand threw everything they had in a last ditch attempt to salvage a draw. The penultimate minute of the game saw Sealand win a corner, where they, in desperation, overloaded the Tamil Eelam penalty area with all available players, including the goalkeeper. After Tamil Eelam robustly defended the corner, the ball fell to the defender Kevin Nagendra, who played a perfectly weighted ball that set the winger, Ragvan Prashanth, free to cruise past the defence and seal the victory by walking the ball into the back of the net.
The final goal epitomised the Tamil Eelam mode of conduct for the day, exhibiting a well organised defence that linked to a precise and unforgiving attack.
 Tamil Eelam players run to fans to celebrate victory

Tamil Guardian caught up with the Tamil Eelam captain, Majouran Jeganathan, at the end of the game, to ask him how he felt about the game.
“Our players showed tremendous determination to keep fighting for the victory that we deserved. Despite falling a goal behind after playing so well , we managed to stay focused and work hard to get the result we wanted. I would also like to thank the fans that have travelled so far to support our national team.”
The Tamil Eelam right back, Arun Vigneswararajah, also added to the conversation stating,
“With Karampuli Naal coming up tomorrow to remember those that gave up their lives with unwavering commitment to the nation, I think it is important that we exhibited a relentless desire to win the game for our nation.”
Tamil Guardian also asked the Tamil Eelam manager, Ragesh Nambiar, for his take on the team’s performance,
“The team showed a brilliant attacking display today and showcased its true potential. However, the back four are our unsung heroes of this game. Our keeper answered all questions that were asked of him during the game. They provided the solid foundation that encouraged our attacking players to be relentless in their pursuit of goals. As a team, what we must learn from this game is to be constantly focused and aware, as the goals we gave away where from momentary lapses in concentration. I am confident that the team will display a strong performance against our next components Occitania ”
Tamil Eelam’s well experienced centre back, Kathiravan Uthayanan also filled us in on his views of the match, stating,
“I feel really confident about our back four, we work well together and have full faith in each other’s capabilities. I have never played with a group of players that feel as comfortable and solid as the ones that I am playing with now. Today, our team showed determination and discipline , to ensure victory, despite unjustly falling behind in the game.”

Tamil Eelam will pay their next match of the tournament against Occitania on Saturday 6th July at 7.00pm.

Follow@TamilGuardian on twitter for further coverage.

A live stream of the match can be viewed on the Tamil Eelam Football Association website.