Defending champions Pakistan opened their campaign at the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) U16 Championship with a goalless draw against Afghanistan at the Army Ground in Kathmandu yesterday.
Pakistan, the defending champions, are featuring as top contenders in Group A which includes Afghanistan, Nepal and Bhutan.
However, the team had a less than stellar start to their campaign.
“We were expecting to win this match but Afghanistan played well,” coach Sajjad Mehmood told The Express Tribune.
“Afghanistan have been preparing for this tournament for four months before coming to Nepal, so of course they were a challenging team to go up against. But we missed three very good opportunities today.
“Our forwards, especially Muhammad Munir Ahmed, Faisal Hassan and Mohsin Fareed ended up taking good shots at the goal post. Similarly, they took eight corners while Afghanistan only managed to get two, so yes we played an attacking game as well.”
Sajjad added that despite the goalless draw in the opener, he was confident the team would be able to defend its title this year.
Pakistan stand in second place in Group A with Afghanistan, with both sides taking a point each. Meanwhile, hosts Nepal are leading the pool with three points after defeating Bhutan 7-0 in their opening match.
Pakistan play Bhutan, while Nepal face Afghanistan tomorrow.
SAFF U16 Championship 2011 runners-up India will start their campaign in the event against Sri Lanka today.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 21st, 2013.
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