KARACHI: Pakistan football team’s unbeaten streak of three matches came to an end on Thursday night after it lost to Maldives 3-0 on their practice tour.
Pakistan had played out a 1-1 draw against the hosts on Tuesday after winning two consecutive matches against Nepal 1-0 in the first leg of the tour.
“It was a tough match and the weather was just impossible,” assistant manager Anwar Shahzad told The Express Tribune. “There was a lot of rain and playing away from home, we had a tough time getting used to the conditions here.
“The players were in a positive state of mind after winning against Nepal but I guess they took too much pressure in the last match. Over all however, I would still say it was not a bad performance on the tour.”
According to Shahzad, the defeat would only help the team as it will have time to work on its weaknesses before the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers.
“The last match shows we’re still short of goals. We need to work with the strikers to help them develop a killer instinct in front of goal. AFC Cup qualifiers will have tougher opponents compared to Maldives, so a lot of improvement is needed.”
The team will return on February 16 and the camp is expected to resume after a week.
Pakistan began their practice tour on February 6 to prepare for the qualifiers that will take place in Kyrgyzstan from March 17. The national team is placed in group B with the hosts, Tajikistan and Macau — the top two teams from the group will progress into the next round.
Meanwhile, former captain Essa Khan said Pakistan’s defeat in the last match against Maldives was because of poor match planning.
“The players tried their best but the coach had failed to form a good strategy against Maldives in their second match,” said Essa. “The opponents were bound to deploy a different game plan in the second match after failing to win the first, but I guess Pakistan just failed to understand their strategy.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2013.