KARACHI: Pakistan lost to Bangladesh 4-3 on penalties at the South Asian Football Federation (Saff) U15 Championship for boys in Nepal on Saturday.
The stand out talent had been Mohibullah who scored an equaliser on penalty in full-time to keep Pakistan’s hopes alive in the final. He was one of the two players to score in the penalty shoot-out, Wasif, being the other one. The rest of the penalties were saved by Bangladesh's substitute goal-keeper.
It could have been an India vs Pakistan final too, but Bangladesh routed the defending champions out in the semi-final on penalty kicks while Pakistan thrashed Nepal at home-ground 4-0 to reach the final.
Pakistan captain Haseeb Ahmed was also named the most valuable player of the tournament.
En-route to the final, Pakistan defeated India 2-1 in their opening Group B match and then outclassed Bhutan 4-0 to progress to the semi-finals.
The outcome brings forth the question whether the talent in good hands.
However, with a good performance at the tournament the players have proven their worth, reaching the final after a training camp of just 20 days before the championship, according to their assistant coach Asghar Anjum.
Nevertheless questions about their future remain unanswered by the Pakistan Football Federation (PF). While Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat was quick to congratulate, the PFF management was quicker to circulate the President's message but not too keen on emphasizing the result after the semi-final win.
The team won against the hosts Nepal 4-0, but the story got disturbing as one looked at the score details released by the PFF, they had failed their own players, in this case, Moin Ahmed particularly.
The PFF most likely did not even watch the match; the team management did not bother to correct the mistake either, letting their own player down as the credits for the fourth goal went to Mudassar Nazar instead of the player who actually sealed the win for the country.
Pakistan's semi-final with Nepal was mainly a spectacle because the hosts seemed out of depth too, the first goal was an own goal in the second half, while the following two were scored by Mohibullah on penalties. Nepal were already playing with 10-players after a red card, while the streaming service made the mistake of calling Pakistan's fourth goal a penalty by Mudassar Nazar, the PFF never bothered to address the error.
Neither the team's assistant coaches responded when contacted by The Express Tribune for confirmations.
The PFF press release had stated fourth goal as a penalty, and the rest of the media outlets did run it as such, without corroborating it. The fourth goal was actually a header. This instance alone is an indication of where the future of these young guns lies.
Pakistan youth have thrived at the Saff U16 Championship before too, in 2011 when they won it for the first time, while the national team made their outing at the Saff Suzuki Cup in September and reached the semi-finals for the first time after 2005.
While the talent is speaking for itself, it is a rather bleak performance by the PFF so far.
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