Pakistan beat Afghanistan to keep hopes alive


Pakistan under-16 team defied all odds to upset Afghanistan 3-1 in the 2012 Asian Football Confederation U-16 Championship qualifiers Group B match at Ali Sabah al-Salem Stadium in Kuwait City late on Monday. The win against Afghanistan brought the life back into Pakistan’s chances of qualifying for the next round of the championship.
Reports received here said that after disappointing results against Kuwait and UAE U-16 sides, Pakistan went into this game facing a daunting task of overcoming an impressive and solid Afghan side that had drawn against all the strong sides and had beaten Yemen two days ago.
Pakistan U-16 side showed an outstanding play. Despite having the possession advantage, Afghanistan’s defence failed as Pakistan suddenly pounced just before half-time when Muhammad Bilal headed a bouncing long-ball, which beat Afghan goalie Abdullah Qadir, to get the lead. Pakistan were 1-0 up at the half time.
Afghanistan responded by going on all out attack as they found gaps in Pakistan’s midfield and nervy defence. They were awarded a dubious penalty in the 55th minute following a push by defender Rashid Noor on an Afghan striker in the box. Mohammad Amin then duly equalised for Afghanistan as they stepped up the pressure to take the lead but some poor shot selection and an offside meant it remained a tense 1-1, with Pakistan desperate for some breathing space.
Mansoor Khan then stunned the Afghan side in the 74th minute when he selfishly sidestepped three Afghan defenders and volleyed in a goal for Pakistan. The goal shocked the Afghan side, who despite all their efforts failed to test the opposition more, as Pakistan kept sniffing around for that vital counter attack. Meanwhile, in the 84th minute, Pakistan put the result beyond Afghan hands as they made it 3-1, thanks to another Mansoor Khan special.
Pakistan’s chances of qualifying the next round have become brighter as they require a win in their final group game against Yemen on September 22.
In the other matches, Yemen shocked hosts Kuwait with a 2-1 win while UAE hammered Maldives 6-0 earlier in the day.


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