Rolling into the semi-finals unbeaten, after a close win over India and a thrashing of Maldives, Pakistan take on Bangladesh today for a place in the U-16 South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship final.
Pakistan’s young brigade, spurred on by conquering arch-rivals India, is confident of progress.
“The boys are well prepared and are full of confidence,” team coach Sajjad Mehmood told The Express Tribune from Kathmandu. “We had a big gap in which the team practiced a lot and worked on many areas, especially the ones showing weakness in the first two matches.”
Mehmood termed Bangladesh tough opponents but rated his side favourite to win the match.
“Bangladesh are a tough side but Pakistan’s form and confidence makes me hopeful of progress. The boys just need to maintain their performance and go into the match without taking the added pressure of it being a semi-final.”
The coach also expected another round of fireworks from striker Mohammad Bilal who scored four goals against the Maldives.
“Even though the whole team is valuable, Bilal’s form makes him our trump card against Bangladesh.”
Pakistan could set up a rematch against India if they win the semi-final with the neighbours taking on Nepal in the other semi-final.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2011.
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