‘Pakistan should shift focus to SAFF Championship’ [Express Tribune]

‘Pakistan should shift focus to SAFF Championship’ [Express Tribune]

By Natasha Raheel – Express Tribune

KARACHI: After a dismal performance by Pakistan in the 2018 FIFA World Cup preliminary qualifiers, where they lost to Yemen 3-1 on aggregate, former captain Jaffar Khan advised the national side to move on rather than lament the loss to the Gulf state.

Jaffar believes that even though the loss in the qualifiers was heartbreaking, it would be smarter for Pakistan to shift their focus to winning the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship, scheduled to be held later this year.

“Losing the qualifier was sad, especially because our performance was better in the second-leg,” Jaffar told The Express Tribune. “If this match was in Pakistan we would’ve won, but regardless of the unfortunate factors involved in the changing of the venue, the players now need to set their sights on the Saff Championship as we’ve never won the regional event before.”

Pakistan were required to win their second-leg encounter with a margin of two goals to get through to the next round after losing to Yemen 3-1 in the first-leg in Doha, but they fell short and ended their campaign with a goalless draw.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Football Federation Director Development Pervez Saeed Mir said the shift in venue had cost Pakistan its victory in the qualifier.

“It was a hassle for the team to go play in Bahrain because of the unfortunate security situation in Lahore. It certainly affected our game,” said Mir. “We were at a disadvantage throughout the tie and whatever edge we had, we lost it when the match was rescheduled to be played in Bahrain.”