Ilievski elated, Lutfi blames rain

Pakistan coach Tariq Lutfi was far from convinced that his team lost due to their lack of skill or technique; instead he laid all the blame on the pitch conditions after their 3-0 defeat against Bangladesh at the post-match briefing at the Banga-bandhu National Stadium yesterday.

This was the second worst result for Pakistan against Bangladesh, after their 4-0 defeat in the SAFF Championships in Goa in 1999. Lutfi, the veteran coach of Pakistan who is at the helm for the second time, was hiding behind the excuse of rain.

“I accept the defeat since we are not used to playing in these conditions. You see, since we came here we had been concerned about rain and the pitch conditions. We even complained to the referees about it since we could not find the match commissioner. The pitch was not suitable for playing football and we have a few foreign players are not at all used to playing in these conditions.”

The veteran coach said they will make their complaint official: “We will now put our complaints in writing to the match commissioner,” said Lutfi, adding that the match should have been stopped as the players could not get the ball to roll on the soggy pitch.

Lutfi conceded though that three goals was be one too many for his team to overcome, yet vowed for a good performance in the return match back home.

“A defeat of 3-0 is a big one and we tried to score one goal at least, but unfortunately could not,” Lutfi said. “Definitely we will try to come back in the home match.”

Lutfi’s counterpart Nikola Ilievski, the Macedonian coach of Bangladesh who took over the reign three days ago, could not have asked for a better beginning and was in no mood to hide his surprise and pleasure.

“This is a very happy moment for the people, for the players, for your country and for my country. The boys played very well on the pitch. The players played bravely,” said the 56-old coach.

“But we must keep our emotions down because Pakistan are a very good team. In the return leg, we will try to keep the advantage,” added Ilievski.

Bangladesh goalkeeper Biplob Battacharjee, who was wearing the captain’s armband for the first time after making his debut fifteen years ago, said this was a proud moment for him and thanked his team mates for this result and also thanked the people for their support.

“I have been playing for the national side for 15 years and had been waiting for this moment. I thank the boys for giving me such a wonderful victory.”

“Pakistanis are ahead of us physically but we are far better skill-wise, which we once again proved on the pitch today,” said the goalkeeper of Muktijoddha Sangsad.

About the away match on 3 July in Lahore, Biplob said, “We will not count this result and will start afresh. If we can concentrate like this match, we will once again come out with a victory in the away match.”

Asked whether the players are concerned about their security, the Bangladesh captain said that the authority concerned in Pakistan promised they would provide full security, but they are prepared to even sacrifice their lives for football and country.

Courtesy of The Daily Star