It was Sri Lanka’s turn to admire its opposition in the Nehru Cup here on Monday. The island nation was swept off by a cyclone that came in the shape of Syria, which won 4-0, a comprehensive margin that should help the team keep its appointed place in the final.
This was Syria’s second win in as many matches and Sri Lanka’s first defeat. After the sensational performance against Lebanon when it won 4-3, this was a letdown by Sri Lanka, which paid for its complacency.
The result was a disappointment for the 1000-odd spectators at the Ambedkar Stadium who apparently anticipated a close contest following Sri Lanka’s sensational show in its previous match.
Syria prospered on the strength of Mohammad Alzino and Abdul Fatah Alaga. Their incisive raids left the Sri Lankan defence in a shambles as Syria took the aerial route to establish early domination.
Five midfielders, where Ayan Wael was a constant threat, gave Syria the advantage against an opposition that made the mistake of trying to play total football.
The speed that Syria generated was too hot for Sri Lanka to handle and it paid the penalty for trying to set up the off-side trap.
Syria’s first three goals came thanks to grave tactical errors by Sri Lanka. The first goal came as late as the 25th minute even though Syria looked like scoring every time it got the ball.
Mohamad Alzino headed in to put Syria ahead and soon came the second when Alaa Alshbli broke the off-side trap, raced in and found Abdalrazak Al Housain who headed in.
The third goal (36th minute) resulted when Sri Lankan continued to be a confused lot. Ayan sprinted to the left and placed the ball at the feet of Alaga, who tapped in comfortably, his long strides leaving the Sri Lankans in a daze.
The Syrian supremacy continued on resumption too. A goal was added in the 55th minute by Alaga after Alzino had done the spadework. Sri Lanka earned a couple of chances but not worth a goal.