Pakistan lose 2-1 to Palestine

KARACHI: Pakistan lost 2-1 to Palestine in their first match of the historic four-match series at the Punjab Stadium in Lahore on Tuesday. In front of around 5000 spectators, Pakistan started brightly but their front-runners Mehmood Khan and Rizwan Asif failed to capitalise on hard chances which came their way.

After ten minutes, Palestine under the experienced French-Morroccon coach Bezaz Mousa, started taking control of the game in midfield and got onto the scoresheet in the 23rd minute when Atef Abubilal left Pakistan goalkeeper Mohammad Omar stranded with a scorching free-kick.

The visitors kept the pressure and doubled their lead in the 28th minute when Houssam Wadi converted a penalty which was awarded to the visitors due to Manzoor’s nasty foul in the penalty area.

But Pakistan inflicted a couple of fine counter-attacks and were able to claim the penalty in the 37th minute when Faisal Iqbal was floored by a Palestinian defender and Mohammad Tauseef made no mistake in taking the spot-kick.

In the 43rd minute, Pakistan sent in new inclusion Ahmed Akber Khan, who plays for Sydney FC in Australia, in place of Saddam Hussain. On the stroke of half time, Pakistan got a sure chance but spearhead Rizwan Asif’s drive went off the target.

But Palestine pounced on the Pakistani defence with full force but failed to capitalise on the opportunities and one of their strikers hit the bar. In the dying moments Pakistan got two open chances but were unable to take them.

“I had fielded my young Olympic team and I am happy with the way the boys played against a tough Palestine which were having experienced players,” Pakistan head coach Tariq Lutfi told ‘The News’ after the match.

“But I am not satisfied with the refereeing as most of the decisions of the referees were against us,” Lutfi said. The second match between the two teams will be held here at the Peoples Sports Complex on March 4. Both the teams will arrive here on Wednesday (today).