KARACHI: Denmark-based striker Hasan Bashir’s late goal guided Pakistan football team to a 1-0 victory over Nepal in their FIFA international friendly at the Dasarat Rangasala Stadium in Kathmandu on Wednesday. This was the first international goal for the 26-year-old Hasan who made his international debut against Singapore last year.
It was a tight game as both sides played with great commitment but failed to capitalise on the opportunities that came their way. Hasan, who is dubbed as one of the fastest strikers in Pakistan’s line up, finally tilted the pendulum in Pakistan’s favour with a solo effort just before the final whistle.
But the victory failed to impress coach Zavisa Milosavljevic. “I am not happy with the performance of my boys as Nepal played better game, especially in the midfield,” Zavisa told reporters after the match. “Nepal seriously need to improve on finishing,” said the Serbian.
Pakistan’s assistant coach Shehzad Anwar said it was a tough game. “Yes, it was a tough game but thanks God we in the end struck which will boost the morale of the players,” Shehzad told ‘The News’ from Kathmandu after the match.
“The second half was hit by rain and the ground was slippery. There was as such no grass on the pitch and it was not easy for the players to play in muddy conditions. Nepal played both tactically and technically sound game and created several chances but our goalie Jaffar Khan did a fine job,” said Shehzad, an AFC License A coach.
“We also created a few chances and a couple of drives from Hasan Bashir were saved by the home side keeper,” he revealed.
Pakistan goalkeeper coach Aslam Khan was satisfied with Jaffar Khan’s performance under the cage. “Jaffar really did a splendid job,” Aslam Khan told this correspondent. “He played a captain’s role and had some good punches and also saved a couple of one-to-one chances,” Aslam added.
“The plus point about Jaffar was that he played with confidence and it is very important for any keeper at this level,” said Aslam.
Pakistan’s physiotherapist Dr Kamran Mehdi said that all the players were fit. “There is no injury to anyone. And the weather here is also not much different from Pakistan,” Kamran said. “But you know we landed Tuesday night and played a game today. Definitely the players need some time to adapt to the local conditions,” Kamran added.
Meanwhile, Denmark-born striker Mohammad Ali is not likely to join the team as he is waiting for his identity card for which he has submitted his documents in Quetta.
“I cannot confirm that Mohammad Ali will join the team as he is trying to get his identity card. But it would be good if he were able to represent Pakistan in the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers next month,” an official of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) said.
Pakistan will play their next game against Nepal on February 9 before moving to Maldives for a couple of FIFA international friendlies to be played on February 12 and 14.
The purpose behind the back-to-back tours is to prepare the side for the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers group B matches, which will be hosted by Kyrgyzstan in March. Kyrgyzstan, former champions Tajikistan and Macau are the other teams in Pakistan’s group.