Sri Lanka’s awakening?

A small nation stuck in the limbo of world football, Sri Lanka may be about to open a new era.


A poor country shaken by frequent political and natural disturbances, Sri Lanka shines only in cricket, British tradition obliges. Football has never really been a priority for this island in the Indian Ocean. The lack of infrastructure and means does not allow local football to take off, which has prompted the local federation to pull out a new card from its sleeve: the hunt for players of Sri Lankan origin around the world.

With a diaspora of more than three million people, Sri Lanka began its search process in 2019. Three players join the guys from Colombo: the « English » Marvin Hamilton and Dillon da Silva (QPR) and “German” Waseem Razeek. The latter already plays a fundamental role in the team, totaling nine goals in thirteen caps (including four in the 4-4 draw against the Maldives) and becoming a spokesperson for his teammates during the bonus dispute with his federation. His performances allow him to go from the anonymity of the 4e German Division to the Indian First Division.

The success of this company then pushes the leaders to multiply prospecting. This is how two camps are organised, in March and September, to which several players are invited in order to strengthen the selection. And if the names do not necessarily make a European football fan dream, they will bring this physical impact and this tactical culture which is sorely lacking in Sri Lankan football with its starving infrastructure. Along these lines, Claudio Kammerknetch (defender, Dynamo DresdenGerman D3), Jasona Thayaparan (defender, Eintracht TrierGerman D4), Adhavan Rajamohan (winger, DegerforsSwedish D1), Joshua Bradley-Hurst (goalkeeper, Clyde F.C.Scottish D3), Oliver Kelaart (winger, Throttur VogumIcelandic D2), Suniel Veerakone (midfielder, Flower CityAmerican D3), Jack Hingert (lateral, Brisbane RoadAustralian D1), Dagsan Vigneswaran (defender, Team Vaud U18) or Jada Mawongo (defender, Swansea U18) are the latest acquisitions of the Sri Lankan selection. Players accustomed to scrapping in the lower leagues and physical duels, where local players move without warning as soon as there is a respondent in front (that is to say in 90% of cases).

Impossible to predict if all these players will be able to bring added value to the team, some are clearly at the end of their career (Hingert is already thirty-two years old), but if the mayonnaise takes well, it is quite plausible to see the Sri Lankato emerge from the depths of the FIFA rankings and, let’s be crazy, to see them at an upcoming Asian Cup. The next SAFF Championship which should take place in Nepal in July 2023, could therefore see some players officially show their new colors and carry the lion banner high.


Boris Ghanem

Author: Boris Ghanem

Chronicles of a football in the Middle East, from Beirut to Baghdad, from Manama to Sanaa, football under 40 degrees in the shade of a palm tree.

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