By Shahrukh Sohail, Chief Editor, Islamabad
The Shaheens need a win today in order to keep their qualifying hopes alive and will hope to increase their goal-difference as well.
Although the Green Shirts weren’t able to overcome Tajikistan in their opening game, they managed to hold out well against the Central-Asian giants and were only breached towards the end in injury time. Zavisa Milosavljević will be going all out for a win today and will turn towards the likes of Adnan Ahmed and Muhammad Ali to lead them to victory.
The hosts overcame Macau with a narrow 1-0 score line and will be aiming for a repeat of that performance today. Owing to the home support and blisteringly cold weather, Kyrgyz could be held as favorites, but their current FIFA ranking threatens to take away that notion.
The most notable for Zavisa’s troop is Hassan Bashir, who is currently nursing a neck strain and according to sources in the team, could potentially sit this one out. If the Dane is on the bench, then all the focus on finding the back of the net will be on Muhammad Ali, who is yet to score for the Green Kickers after making his debut last year.
Jaffar Khan on the other hand is a confirmed absentee, but Pakistan will be in great hands, as Yousuf Butt put in a brilliant display last time out and was crowned the man-of-the-match against Tajikistan.
Midfield will be Zavisa’s prime concern and the Serb will hope that Adnan and Yasir Afridi can marshal the middle of the park with certainty, otherwise a positive result may evade the team again.
While everybody is backing the squad, former captain Essa Khan is less than optimistic and claims that it will be difficult to emerge with three points.
“We’ll be playing under a lot of pressure. We need to put that defeat out of our mind and look to win this one,” Khan told The Express Tribune.
David Tetteh scored the all-important winner for his country last time out and will be looking for a repeat of that situation, unless the Pakistani defence can hold him and his International teammates right from the start.
Pakistan 1-0 Kyrgyzstan