The 2012 AFC U16 Championship qualifiers Group B saw Pakistan fall again to the more illustrious Middle East sides as UAE won 2-0 yesterday night at Mohammed Al Hamad Stadium in Kuwait City, Kuwait. The loss is a huge blow for Pakistan’s attempts to get a good enough standing in the group for qualification to final round, esp. since rivals Kuwait beat Maldives 5-0 while Afghanistan prevailed 2-1 over Yemen.
Pakistan team coach Sajjad Mehmood blamed his side’s poor finishing in front of goal that could have decided the tie in their favour as striker Muhammad Bilal missed three sure shot chances as the team managed to test UAE’s defences at times for most of the games. But UAE maintained an upper hand as two goals from defender Rashed Ali Sulaiman in either half helped them get another precious three points to keep their contention for a top-two finish in their own hands.
The game started fairly evenly with UAE looking to dominate possession while Pakistan looking to play deep and hit a fast counter-attack on the break. However, that did not stop UAE from taking the lead after 32 minutes with Rashed to put Pakistan on the back foot. UAE maintained their grip and despite Pakistan coming close to equalise a few times, they doubled their lead with 10 minutes left through another goal by Rashed in 79th minute to break Pakistani resolve as UAE ran comfortable winners at the end.
The result leaves Pakistan now struggling on 3 points from 3 games in 5th place, ahead of lowly Maldives with 0 points, while Kuwait lead the pack with 7 points, with UAE and Afghanistan in 2nd and 3rd places with 5 points each, while Yemen lie 4th with 4 points.
Pakistan now face a daunting task as they must win their final two games against impressive surprise package Afghanistan (19 Sept, 2330 PST kick off) and a gutsy Yemen side (22 Sept, 2030 hrs PST kick off) if they have any chance of finishing higher in the groups.