Pakistan suffer another hammering at SAFF Championship [Dawn]

Pakistan suffer another hammering at SAFF Championship [Dawn]

BANGALORE: The rest and recovery made no difference. Once again, Pakistan lost. Once again, the margin of defeat was 4-0.

Three days after losing to India in their SAFF Championship opener — a game Pakistan played barely six hours after arriving in Bangalore, Shehzad Anwar’s men produced another dismal performance to go down to Kuwait at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Saturday.

The defeat all but ended Pakistan’s chances of advancing from Group ‘A’ and their fate was sealed when India beat Nepal 2-0 in the day’s other match.

“Our team definitely needs more experience [at this level],” Pakistan’s interim assistant coach Torben Witajewski told reporters at a news conference after the match.

“We need more matches as a team,” added the German with Pakistan having several foreign-based players in the squad.

Kuwait, one of two invited teams for the tournament, had opened with a 3-1 win over Nepal and they joined India in the semi-finals after an utterly dominant performance against Pakistan.

Just like in their opening match, Pakistan conceded the first goal in the 10th minute; Hasan Alanezi converting a cross from Mobarak Alfaneeni.

Seven minutes later, Kuwait doubled the lead through Alfaneeni. Ali Matar gained possession and sent a delightful through-ball to Alfaneeni, whose shot gave goalkeeper Yousuf Butt no chance and nestled into the top corner.

Pakistan’s midfield was once again found wanting with the England-based Rahis Nabi and Harun Hamid failing to exert any sort of control and it was a matter of time before Kuwait got their third.

This time, it was a Pakistan mistake with Alfaneeni being gifted the ball in first-half stoppage time and he dinked the ball over Yousuf.

The game was all over and Kuwait added to Pakistan’s misery by getting their fourth in the 69th with Eid Alrashidi embarking on a solo run before finding the back of the net.

Pakistan will now try to salvage some pride when they face Nepal in their final group game on Tuesday with both teams looking to sign off with a victory.

But it won’t be easy for the men in green, who have now lost seven games on the trot since the FIFA suspension on Pakistan was lifted in June last year.

Their first match since returning to the international fold was a 1-0 reverse against Nepal and the Nepalese produced a decent performance against India, holding the hosts goalless in the first half before allowing two in the space of nine minutes.

Sunil Chhetri, who scored a hat-trick against Pakistan, got the opener in the 61st minute when he turned in a cut-back from Mahesh Singh.

Mahesh got the second in the 70th after a shot from Chhetri was deflected onto the crossbar before falling to him to seal the result.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2023