Pakistan, Maldives play drabbed draw


The 166th ranked nation Maldives failed to earn full points in the competition as they were held to a goalless draw by a sturdy Pakistan in the SAFF Cup Football Group B match at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, New Delhi. Tournament favourites Maldives got off to a ‘not so good’ start to their SAFF Championship campaign and drabbed goalless was not the prediction of experts. Maldives are placed second in the group standings, tied on points with Pakistan, and need a victory against Bangladesh to confirm their place in the final four. Maldives coach Istvan Urbanyi made one change to the starting line-up from the last match as Ismail Mohamed was brought in. Pakistan started with Jadeed Khan Pathan as the lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation. The two teams took a while before they settled into the match. The first chance fell to Maldives when Ali Ashfaq’s glancing header missed the far post by not much from a free-kick in the eighth minute.
Pakistan were aggressive in their approach and the tackle by Atif Bashir on Asad Gani was the best example of the same. Adnan Ahmed tricked Shafiu Ahmed and his cross saw Jadeed Pathan’s header find the back of the net though the linesman raised his flag for off-side. At the other end, Ismail Mohamed’s cross from the left saw Ahmed Thariq’s effort being parried away by goalkeeper Jafar Khan. In the second half too, the pace of the game was slow and there were several mispasses in the middle of the park which never really allowed the game to flow.
After some changes made by Pakistan coach Zavisa Milosavljevic , Hasnain Abbas’ ball across the face of the goal saw Shakir Lashari miss by not much in the 74th minute. Ali Ashfaq missed a sitter in the 88th minute as he shot wide from close range which left the assembled Maldives fans disappointed. The draw was a fair result as neither team created enough chances to win the game. Going into the last round of matches, Pakistan and Maldives need a win against Nepal and Bangladesh to make it through to the knockouts.