Although the hype and excitement preceding a Pakistan-India contest is not seen on the streets and among the fans, the two sides are eager to make their own impression on the field when they fight it out for the U-16 South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship in Katmandu today.
Unbeaten Pakistan – having already beaten India 1-0 in group stages – entered the final courtesy a 2-0 win over Bangladesh when they left the scoring to the last minute. India, meanwhile, secured their berth after overcoming Nepal on penalty kicks.
The win over India and the Maldives earlier in the event gives Pakistan an edge over their rivals ahead of the final, according to the team coach Sajjad Mehmood.
“We’re very confident,” Mehmood told The Express Tribune from Kathmandu. “The boys are delighted to take on India. It boosted their energy-level when India were confirmed as the finalists.
“There is no pressure. In fact, we’ll go as favourites considering our earlier show in the tournament. Hopefully, we’ll lift the title.”
No major change in strategy
Mehmood added that he was not planning to devise a new strategy, saying that he would just like to see his players continue their good form.
“We won’t try any major change in our strategy. I just want to see my players in the same rhythm and with the same aggression. We’re undefeated in the tournament because of this approach.”
The coach, however, did warn his players of complacency that may sneak in because of the unblemished record.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 10th, 2011.