KARACHI: Pakistan succumbed to a 1-0 defeat to India in their opening match of the bilateral football series in Bangalore on Sunday, the first between the arch-rivals in nine years.
The young side, led by the 22-year-old Kaleemullah dominated the proceedings initially till the Indians regrouped to launch a counter-attack as Robin Singh struck the ball in the net in the 45th minute.
For Pakistan, the bravest performance came from goalkeeper Muzammil Hussain who rose to the occasion for at least five times during the encounter which also saw the tourists get an advantage when Singh was sent off for a second yellow card in the 68th minute.
However, the tourists failed to capitalise against a 10-man Indian side. Muhammad Riaz missed two chances, while Kaleemullah also appeared to yield under the pressure.
Pakistan will be playing their next match on August 20.
According to Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Secretary Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi, the team needed to improve on its goal-scoring quickly.
“The issue was the finishing,” Lodhi told The Express Tribune. “I’d want the team to improve on scoring goals. Generally yes it was a better result and the team fought hard, but we expect more from them in the next match.
“India-Pakistan matches are usually heated affairs with a lot of emotion.”
Similarly, former national coach Tariq Lutfi said that losing 1-0 is not a bad sign.
“It was a good effort,” said Lutfi. “The margin of goals wasn’t big and it showed that the team is trying to improve. Kaleemullah is the captain now and hopefully he’ll get better chances to score in the next match.”
Former national player Arshad Khan (1992-2003) said that he wanted the team to have a successful campaign.
“We were the better side but the Indians had home advantage,” he said. “I do believe that our team can beat India 2-1 in the next match if they improve on their finishing.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2014.
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