KARACHI: Nepal dented Pakistan’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-final of the South Asian Football Championship (Saff) with an injury-time equaliser in the second Group A match in Kathmandu yesterday.
Pakistan, who lost their opening match to arch-rivals and defending champions India 1-0, were pinning hopes on securing important points against Nepal.
The team started the match on a high with striker Hassan Bashir directing a free-kick from midfielder Adnan Ahmed past Nepal’s goalkeeper to score in the 14th minute of the match.
However, the hosts began the second half brightly and took control of the game. Their efforts bore fruit in stoppage time when Bimal Magar’s goal clinched a valuable equaliser for the home side.
“Just a minute before the equaliser, we asked the players to maintain their composure and finish the job, but maybe it wasn’t our day,” coach Shehzad Anwar told The Express Tribune.
“We played well and after the opening match against India, were favourites for this fixture. People were underestimating us after our performances in the warm-up games but we did surprise the spectators and our critics.”
Despite the draw, Pakistan still have a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals. They will have to beat Bangladesh by a margin of two goals and also hope that India lose to Nepal.
“We’ve seen Bangladesh play and I’m confident we can score two goals against them in our match tomorrow,” said Anwar.
In the other Group A match, Bangladesh played out a 1-1 draw against India.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2013.
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