Striker Mohammad Bilal was in superb form, scoring four times, as the Pakistan under-16 football team outclassed their Maldivian counterparts 6-0 and cruise into the semi-finals of South Asian Football Federation Championship.
Pakistan, having defeated India 1-0 in their opening match, finished top of their group with six points from two games.
The national team looked in brilliant touch, putting their opponents under pressure from the start by maintaining possession and repeatedly attacking the Maldives’ goal. The early pressure paid off when Bilal gave Pakistan the lead in the fifth minute, finding the target off a corner from Mansoor Khan.
Thereafter, Pakistan continued attacking but were unlucky not to extend their lead as the score remained 1-0 at the breather.
The second half witnessed Bilal putting on a brilliant show, scoring in the 56th minute off a cross by Sher Ali. Pakistan’s aggression continued to pay dividends as Ali scored a quick brace to extend his team’s lead. The striker’s goals in the 79th and 80th minute knocked the wind out of Maldives completely as Pakistan went 4-0 up with 10 minutes left.
However, the thrashing was not over for Maldives with Bilal completing his hat-trick four minutes later through a superb solo run. He completed his four-goal tally in injury time with a fine shot from 25 yards beating goal-keeper Shareef Ibrahim to complete a 6-0 rout.
Pakistan will play their semi-final on August 8.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2011.
Correction: The first paragraph of the article had earlier incorrectly mentioned Pakistan defeating Malaysia. The correction has been made.
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