Pakistan whip B’desh to reach SAFF football final


The Pakistan U16 football team will take on India in the final of the inaugural SAFF Under-16 Football Championship being played at Nepal. Pakistan reached the final of the championship beating Bangladesh 2-0 while India beat Nepal to clash in the final.
Pakistan junior players made history on Monday by going through to the final when their two best players Mansoor Khan and Sher Ali scored a goal each in the second session.
The overnight rain had left a soggy pitch in Kathmandu but the Pakistan juniors kept the game in their control through out the 90 minutes session and scored when the opportunity knocked at their door. In the first half, Pakistan came close to scoring at the half hour mark with Mansoor Khan and Muhammad Bilal playing a neat one-two at the edge of the Bangladeshi half with the former’s powerful shot going agonisingly close.
Bangladesh tried some counter-attacking football but Pakistan defence line brilliantly led by Muneer never allowed them to score. Just before the break a cross from Mansoor Khan almost found Muhammad Zeeshan whose slide only missed the ball by a fraction of a second. The game was generally well contested but remained goalless in the first half.
After the break, the game opened up as both sides went for the winning goal. The Pakistani players, donning fresh kits replacing the ones wet in the first half, immediately had some chances to score. When Mansoor Khan’s beautiful free-kick hit the top of the cross bar to go out of play, extra time looked inevitable. But just before the 90 minute mark, Pakistan’s best player on the night Mansoor Khan struck a 25-yard shot over the Bangladeshi keeper to give Pakistan the lead in the 89th minute. Just as the Bangladeshi boys started trying for a desperate last minute push to equalise, coach Sajjad’s young guns made it 2-0. Sher Ali dribbled past two defenders to score from a tight angle in 90+2 minute and sent Pakistan into the SAFF U16 Championship final.
Pakistan U16 team will face the winner of other semi-final between Nepal and India in the final.
Sajjad Mehmood and Hassan Baloch have coached this U16 team which won all its games and has yet to concede a single goal in the tournament so far. Thus there is a reason for optimism as the U16 team becomes the source of much needed joy for the Pakistani football fans.