KARACHI: Pakistan Under-22 football team put themselves in a very difficult situation when they played a goalless draw against South Asian rivals Sri Lanka in their second Group B match of the 2013 Asian Cup Qualifiers at the Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Stadium in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia) on Monday night, 25 June 2012.
Now Pakistan, who were beaten by hosts Saudi Arabia 1-0 in their opener the other day, will have to win their all remaining three matches if they are to qualify for the next year’s tournament proper.
As per information received here, Pakistan had an upper hand throughout the match but they failed to capitalise on numerous chances that came their way.
Pakistan’s midfielder Junaid Qadir was shown yellow card in the second half — his second that forces him to sit out during their game against Kyrgyzstan on Thursday (tomorrow).
Another bad news for the Greenshirts is that their precious right-back Ahsanullah has received ribbon fracture which has put him out of the remaining competitions as he needs at least six weeks to recover.
Pakistan were also hurt by a controversial decision when Junaid Qadir struck in the second half, but the goal was disallowed by the referee, signaling an off-side. This was altogether a wrong decision, said a Pakistan team official.
Pakistan coach Zavisa Milosavljevic said that his team dominated the proceedings but was unlucky not to strike. “We were really in command but failed to convert so many chances,” Zavisa told ‘The News’ from Riyadh on Tuesday.
“Now, we are in a difficult situation as we will have to win all our remaining three matches for qualifying for the next year’s tournament,” the 52-year old Serbian said. About the controversial decision, Zavisa said, “Pakistan could have won the game had that goal from Junaid not been disallowed.”
However, he was confident that Pakistan would be able to make a comeback. “Definitely our team played well in both the matches against Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka and now effort would be made to defeat Kyrgyzstan in the Thursday’s show to keep our hopes alive,” he said.
To a query he said Kyrgyzstan was also not a weak opposition. “I watched Kyrgyzstan playing against Saudi Arabia on Monday night and found them playing an organised game by keeping a solid pattern of 4-5-1 right from the kick-off till full time and it will not be an easy job for us to defeat them but our team has the sort of potential to keep them under pressure,” the coach said.
The coach termed Ahsanullah’s injury a big loss. “Ahsanullah is a fine right-back and definitely we will miss him but it’s part of the game and one cannot help,” he said.
When quizzed about Pakistan’s qualification chances, the coach realistically said that Saudi Arabia and Syria were both tough teams and their standard was higher than the rest of the outfits in the group. They seemed to be the hot favourites for the two spots, he conceded.
Zavisa said he wanted improvement in Pakistan’s domestic structure which according to him was the only way to help the country raise its standard in the game.
“I feel that the team have made a marked improvement during the last two and a half months. But I would say that Pakistan needs to have departmental youth teams also to groom the youngsters and only a single national championship for youth in a year will not serve the purpose,” he pointed out.
In other matches held on Monday night, Syria came from behind to beat Palestine 2-1, while Saudi Arabia defeated Kyrgyzstan 1-0. At the end of the second round, both Saudi Arabia and Syria are on the top of the points table with six points each, followed by Sri Lanka with two points. Pakistan and Palestine have one point each while Kyrgyzstan are yet to open their account.