Seychelles' national football team wins four-nation tournament in Sri Lanka
The Seychelles' side won the friendly four-nation tournament 6-4 through a penalty shootout. (Seychelles Nation)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles' national football team returned home victorious on Saturday after winning the Mahinda Rajapaksa Cup 2021 by defeating host Sri Lanka in the final.
The Pirates' victory in the friendly four-nation tournament came through a penalty shootout in which Seychellois goalkeeper Alvin Michel saved two spot-kicks to silence the home crowd after regulation finished tied at 3-3.
The Seychelles side was trailing Sri Lanka 3-1 but managed to score two goals and equalised before the whistle at the end of normal time. The team of coach Vivian Bothe won 6-4 after the penalty shoot-out to win the tournament.
An emotional team manager, Michael Delpeche, told SNA on Sunday that he has been involved in football for 22 years and this victory is his biggest accomplishment.
“I think this is one of the biggest victories for Seychelles because I cannot recall if we have ever won an international cup. We played four matches, won two and made two draws and both our wins were against the host country, Sri Lanka.”
The manager said that the team left Seychelles with not many people believing that they could win the competition but the chairman of the Football Federation believed that the team could do it.
The tournament which began on November 9 saw the participation of host Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives and Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.
To reach the final, Seychelles made a 1-1 draw against Bangladesh, won 1-0 against Sri Lanka and draw 0-0 against Maldives to make it to the final against the host country.
Delpeche said it was not an easy tournament all teams were very good and at first Seychelles was seen as the weakest won but things changed “after we defeated Sri Lanka. They all started to take us seriously.”
Seychelles was the first team to make the final with a goalless draw in their third match against Maldives while Sri Lanka qualified with a better goal difference than Bangladesh.
“After our draw against Maldives we knew the tournament’s cup was within our reach. Our chairman had promised to come and watch us if we reached the final and he did. He was our biggest supporter and he really believed in the team,” said Delpeche.
The final match was really tough playing as Seychelles was facing the host country with its home crowd.
“There we were facing all the supporters of Sri Lanka while there were only 33 of us from Seychelles. This is a proud moment for our country but it was really hard work and a lot of self discipline from our players,” he added.
Delpeche said that this is an important lesson for all sports team in Seychelles to believe that they can win no matter what the odds.
This is the Seychellois national team's first tourney win since 2011 when they received the Indian Ocean Island Games gold medal through penalties against Mauritius.