Pakistan go down against Singapore XI

KARACHI: Pakistan senior football team on Friday went 0-1 down against Singapore’s Olympic side in a friendly game at the Bishan Stadium in Singapore.

After a tough fight, Izzdin Shafiq Zulfahmi scored the winner for the hosts at the stroke of half time.

“We were playing not against Singapore’s Under 23 team but it was their Olympic side as four senior players were also inducted by them, also including their goalkeeper,” Pakistan football team coach Zavisa Milosavljevic told ‘The News’ from Singapore after the game.

“In the initial few minutes our team did not play well but after that we made improvement but all credit goes to Singapore who played really a fast game,” the Serbian said.

“We conceded the goal after our midfielder Zia-us-Salam made a blunder when he missed the ball in the mid-field that provided the opponents the chance to create a goal-scoring opportunity which they eventually converted,” said Zavisa, who has been Pakistan’s coach since November 5, 2011.

“We were unlucky not to score as once our striker Mohammad Rasool had a nice shot and then Kaleemulalh also had an excellent drive,” the coach revealed.

Zavisa pointed out that their main problem was that the team lacked international exposure. “You know our main problem is that we last played an international game in December last at the SAFF Cup in New Delhi,” the coach said.

However, he was impressed by Denmark-based strikers Hasan Bashir and Mohammad Ali. “I am satisfied with Hasan Bashir as he has a good control and movement and I expect him to be a very good future player,” he said.

“Mohammad Ali is also a fine player and he has also good movement and in the future he could turn out to be a good forward for Pakistan,” said Zavisa.

The coach gave chance to the home-based goalkeepers Jaffar Khan and Jehangir Khan. “We played with keepers Jaffar and Jehangir today while in the next game we will play with the pair of Jaffar and Denmark-based gloveman Yousuf Butt,” the coach disclosed.

“A chance will also be given to Norway-based defender Omar Malik in our next game against Singapore national team on November 19,” added Zavisa.

Although Zavisa did not have any knowledge about the arrival of the country’s top Hong-Kong-based defender Zeeshan Rehman and England-based left-back Shabir Khan but a top official of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) said that the duo were to arrive in Singapore Friday night to join the team ahead of the key FIFA friendly on Monday.

“You know, we have moved here from a chilly condition in Pakistan while the weather here is hot and humid and there was also a rain before the match,” Zavisa said.

“It was not easy for our players to play here, but we cannot complain about the weather as one has to face such situations,” he said.

Zavisa also praised the pitch. “The pitch was grassy and it was also good to play on,” he said.

Pakistan had defeated Singapore in both the legs in the Olympic Qualifiers in 2007 under coach Mohammad Rashid (Railways) and had qualified for the next round for the first time in history.

In 2003, Pakistan had lost to Singapore 3-1 under the leadership of Haroon Yousuf. Former Pakistan captain Mohammad Essa was also part of that show.

by Alam Zeb Safi [The News]

Match pics can be viewed on the FA Singapore facebook page