Pakistan under-22 crashed out of the Al-Nakba International Football Tournament despite a 2-2 draw against the Palestinian national side in Nablus.
Needing to win this match to qualify for the quarter-finals after a stalemate against Vietnam, Pakistan went behind in the 24th minute and the score stayed 1-0 at the interval.
Kaleemullah equalised in the 64th minute but Palestine took the lead again with Mohamed Halmal scoring his second just a minute later. Faisal Iqbal gave Pakistan a share of the points with a last-ditch effort.
Federation content despite exit
Despite the draw, Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Secretary Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi was disappointed with the team’s show against Vietnam.
“We should’ve won the first match,” Lodhi told The Express Tribune. “Vietnam’s an easy side compared to Palestine. But I can’t complain because the team conceded and then came back into the game. I must appreciate that. At least they scored goals.
“For now, I’m satisfied with the team’s show because after sending the team to different countries and spending over a million rupees
on these tours, we are expecting improvement and we want to give them enough exposure so that they can
perform against the best teams in Asia in the AFC Under-22 Championship qualifiers.”
Lodhi added that the federation was trying to arrange another tour before the qualifiers that take place from June 23 till July 3 in Saudi Arabia.
The team returns to Lahore today while the camp for the qualifiers start in Lahore after a four-day rest.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2012.