National team striker Kaleemullah said that Pakistan’s performance in the Peace Cup 2013 in Philippines earlier week this was marred by the short recovery-time in the tournament, otherwise the team had a good chance of winning the trophy.
Pakistan had played two matches against Chinese Taipei and Philippines in the tri-nation invitational event. The tournament was particularly important as it was the first assignment of Bahrain’s Mohamed Shamlan as the new coach.
Pakistan managed to win their opening match against Chinese Taipei 1-0 and were only required to draw the match with Philippines to lift the trophy, as the hosts had earlier lost their first match 2-1 to Chinese Taipei.
“We played well till the 70th minute,” Kaleemullah, who scored the opening goal of the match in the 15th minute against Philippines, told The Express Tribune.
“But exhaustion took over after that. Philippines were able to score goals on our expense because we lost our focus. Had the match gone into extra-time, they would probably have scored even more goals.
“We never got the full recovery time. There should be at least a two-day rest in any international tournament for the players to recuperate.”
Kaleemullah’s goal had put Pakistan in a stronger position on October 15, but Philippines equalised in the 33rd minute and scored two more goals in the second-half to win the trophy on goal difference.
“We won our match against Chinese Taipei, who I believe were out of their element as well since they had played the opening match of the tournament with Philippines only a day before,” the striker added. “So overall the schedule didn’t help us much.”
Sad result for team: Lutfi
Meanwhile, former national coach Tariq Lutfi said that the team’s defeat against the hosts Philippines in Bacolod was a ‘sad’ result as they missed out on a golden opportunity to improve Pakistan’s image in the continental football circuit.
“It was a sad result,” said Lutfi. “Winning this title would’ve been a revival of Pakistani football in the international events. The result shows that the whole squad collapsed and there were tactical issues.
“However, I think that Kaleemullah did his job well and the home-bred players put the team ahead in the tournament as well.”
Lutfi said that going in with the mentality to just draw a match also brings down the players’ ability to perform.
“Knowing that you just need to draw the match is also a mind-block, it affects the players’ performance.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 20th, 2013.
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