Pakistan stun Maldives with late equaliser

Pakistan celebrate at final whistle


Male’, MALDIVES – Pakistan scored a very late goal to avoid defeat against Maldives in the international friendly match played at a packed National Stadium tonight. Asadhulla Abdulla scored Maldives in the 48th minute but the last kick of the game came to the visitor’s rescue.

In the 6th minute Pakistan missed a good chance to break the deadlock but Hassan Bashir’s shot went wide. Maldives started to control the play with defence working overtime to ensure they didn’t concede. Maldives striker Asadullah hit the target in 28th minute but it went of the bar with his rebound effort going wide and off target.

At this stage Maldives were looking to take the lead before the half time, the home side were enjoying the energetic crowd. In the 40th minute Asadhulla missed anothergood opportunity as his attempt was saved superbly by Jaffar Khan.

It remained scoreless at half time but Maldives made tactical changes and brought in captain Ali Ashfaq who had started the game on the bench due to fitness issues. Ashfaq made instant impact and leaving Pakistan defense in numbers to create a perfect cross for the live wire striker Assadullah to head in from close range to give hosts the lead in 48th minute.

The goal gave Maldives the ease to play their passing game frequently and Pakistan were chasing shadows especially with Ashfaq creating chances at will. At this stage Pakistan team had lost its discipline with players picking up yellow cards frequently as Pakistani defenders struggled to handle his pace and skills.

In the 79’s minute Pakistan waste a golden chance as Hameed Ahmed played the ball across the box which Hassan Bashir failed to connect and it looked like Pakistan had wasted their best chance to score. On the other end of the pitch Maldives had a goal ruled out for off-side.

The last 10 minutes saw a tough battle between both sides as Pakistan searched for the equaliser and Maldives looked to finish the game off with a second goal. In the stoppage time Pakistan saw Yasir Afridi pick up an injury to his face which saw play halt for few minutes. Pakistan managed to get a corner in last minute of stoppage time which Yaqoob Butt placed perfectly into the box and Hameed Ahmed had all the time to simply turn it in to stun the home crowd and give his team a thrilling draw.

Pakistan coach Zaviša Milosavljević expressed his satisfaction on the result and performance by stating “Pakistani team played a very competitive game. We performed well and I am very satisfied about the motivation, aggression”.

Pakistan take on Maldives in the 2nd game on Thursday 2100hrs in Male’.

 The News adds:

Hameed’s last-gasp goal helps Pakistan hold Maldives

KARACHI: Defender Mohammad Hameed struck a last minute goal to help Pakistan hold Maldives to a 1-1 draw in their first game of the two-match friendly series at the National Stadium in Male late Tuesday night. Hameed did the job by scoring on a free-kick from Yaqoob Butt in the last minute. The local media of Maldives mentioned Denmark-based defender Yaqoob Butt as the goal scorer, but the visiting team officials said that it was Chaman-born full-back Mohammad Hameed who did it.

Pakistan’s Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic said that his team played a competitive game. “Pakistani team played a very competitive game. We performed well and I am very satisfied about the motivation and aggression,” the Serbian said in a post-match press conference.

Zavisa observed that his side was very tired. “Now we are really very tired. It’s our third game in five days,” said Zavisa, whose charges won back-to-back matches against Nepal on February 6 and 9 in Kathmandu before flying for Maldives.

Zavisa hailed Maldives’ skipper Ali Ashfaq. “Comparing both teams, we cannot see much difference except a few players like captain Ashfaq,” said Zavisa. “He changed the game when he came to the pitch as a second half substitute,” the coach said. “Apart from that the full house in Male’s National Stadium had a lot of pressure on us,” said Zavisa.

Earlier, Pakistan could have struck in the sixth minute but Denmark-based striker Hasan Bashir’s drive went off the target.

In the 28th minute the hosts’ Asadhulla Abdulla’s pile-driver crashed the cross bar. He then failed to put the rebound in the nets much to the dismay of the local crowd.

In the 40th minute Asadhulla’s shot was excellently gathered by the Pakistani keeper.

At half time, the match was evenly poised without any goal.

Soon after the start of the second session Asadhulla made amends for his previous missed chances when he broke the deadlock with a nice header in the 47th minute.

Nine minutes later Ashfaq found Asad in front but Pakistani keeper Jaffar Khan made a good save. In the 79th minute Pakistan’s Hameed penetrated the defense line of Maldives and supplied a good ball but Hasan Bashir couldn’t control it.

In the 90th minute Adham managed a super shot but Pakistani keeper cleared it and on rebound Ashfaq scored but referee disallowed it for an off-side before the visitors leveled it in the last minute of the extra time.

Maldives coach Istavan Urbanyi branded Pakistan’s tactics as ‘dirty’. “Pakistan played a very dirty game and there were very serious fouls and at least two straight red cards,” Urbanyi said.

“To be honest Pakistan didn’t play football,” he said. “They didn’t create any chances other than some free-kicks and corners,” said the hosts’ coach.

“But that’s the beauty of football. You can have some success even if you don’t do anything,” Urbanyi added.

Both the teams will face each other in their second and final game at the same venue on Thursday (today) at 9:00pm PST.