Saudi Arabia thrash Pakistan [The News]

Saudi Arabia thrash Pakistan [The News]

LAHORE: Pakistan on Thursday lost their fifth successive game of their second round Group G 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers when they went down to Saudi Arabia 3-0 at the Jinnah Stadium, Islamabad, on Thursday.

Saudi Arabia, playing for the first time on Pakistan’s soil, started brightly and tried to penetrate from both wings. However, in the start they were denied some opportunities by Pakistan’s backline and once goalie Yousuf Butt made a solid save.

However, following a flurry of rallies from both wings, especially from the left cordon, Saudi Arabia went 1-0 up with a sensational goal from Feras Albrikan in the 27th minute. Saudi Arabia, who had beaten Pakistan 4-0 in the rain-trenched game in Al-Ahsa last November, continued to put pressure on Pakistan and Feras Albrikan doubled their lead in the 41st minute.

At half time, Saudi Arabia were leading 2-0. In the second half the visitors kept the pressure and stretched their lead to 3-0 when Musab Aljuwayr struck in the 51st minute.

Imran Kayani could have scored a goal for the hosts but he failed to time his drive which went off in the dying moments. The victory also put Saudi Arabia in the third round.

Pakistan’s skipper Abdullah Iqbal said that they made blunders. “We lost the match because of the blunders we made,” Abdullah said after the match. “We are on the right path and if we go like this the things will turn good,” Abdullah said.

Former Pakistan assistant coach Nasir Ismail said that Pakistan made sheer defence blunders in the game which was dominated by the visitors. “The visitors dominated the game right from the start and the first two goals which Pakistan conceded were because of the blunders from Abdullah Iqbal who was also made captain,” Nasir told The News.

“I repeatedly say that the way diaspora committed blunders in these games is not tolerable. And in both games our local brand should have played. If you are to play with such a defence then our local boys can fight more defensively. Abdullah did not snatch the ball aggressively and that cost Pakistan dearly. The third goal was also a defence blunder and there were major loops and Pakistan’s possession was zero,” Nasir said.

Pakistan will now travel to Tajikistan for their last group game to be held on June 11.

Published in The News, 7 June 2024

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