The Dasarath Rangsala Stadium in Nepal witnessed a historic moment for Pakistani football as the young green guns battled hard to beat India 2-1 in the final of 1st ever SAFF U16 Football Championship today, 10 August 2011. Goals from midfielder Muhammad Zeeshan and star striker Mansoor Khan proved to much for India to overcome as they went down once again in the tournament to a determined and resolute Pakistan U16 side.
This win marks the first time in five years that Pakistan has won a football event at any age level, since the 2006 South Asian Games football gold for Pakistan U23 under great Bahraini coach Salman Ahmed Sharida. The Pak U16 coaching staff of head coach Sajjad Mehmood and Hassan Baloch deserve full credit for the win as they defied all odds and hampered preparations before the tournament to guide the Green Guns to a historic win today. Many congrats to the Pakistan team, players, fans, and officials of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF).
Earlier the day, hosts Nepal left it late to beat Bangladesh 2-1 to finish 3rd in tournament. A large Nepali crowd was in full voice and cheering on Pakistan from the first whistle as the Indo-Pak rivals began another round against each other in football. Both sides looked determined and focused for the win, but it was Pakistan who drew first blood in 23rd minute as Muhammad Zeeshan’s speculative shot completely fooled India goalie Supritam and found the back of the net to put initial tournament favourites India behind once again. India went in hard again and managed to score just before half time through the impressive and hardworking Daniel Lalhlimpua to equalise.
But 5 minutes into the second half, a goalmouth scramble in India’s box from a Pakistani corner saw Pak star striker Mansoor Khan sneak in a goal and shock India once again. The 2-1 Pakistani lead forced India to go aggressive on Pakistan’s defence and came close a few times. But Pakistani defence led by captain Muneer and goalkeeper Usman Khan held firm as they ran the clock down. India’s desperate attempts proved futile as after nervy final minutes, Pakistan were crowned South Asian U16 football champions after going undefeated and only conceding one goal the entire tournament!
Mansoor Khan’s performances this tournament has won him many fans across South Asia as he was declared best player overall. Pakistan U16 will now return to Karachi tomorrow 11 Aug 2011 at 7:20 PM at Karachi airport.
May this team win more glory and keep our flag flying.
p.s. Special thanks to GoalNepal.Com for providing great coverage for the tournament, and special thanks to the Nepali people for their immense support to Pakistan throughout this tournament. Special thanks to India for battling hard despite the set-backs, and of course special thanks to our fans who believed in us!
PFF MEDIA CELL adds:
Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, President Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is expressing pleasure on the outstanding performance of Pakistan U-16 Football team and officials by wining SAFF U-16 Championship.
According to the press release issued here by PFF, on this great occasion of historical win, the President PFF announced cash award of Rs. 30 lac (Rupees Thirty Lac) for the young team of Pakistan. This benevolent act of the President PFF shall greatly boost the moral of the U-16 Team and they in their future endeavor shall play like heroes on the field.
This U-16 players’ historical win has not only brought laurels to the game of football but has also made nation proud by twice beating Indian team. Therefore, PFF requests the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Chief Ministers of all the provinces and multinational institutions, banks and philanthropist to come forward and encourage these young national heroes by announcing attractive cash awards, so that these players in their humble way continue shining the name of Pakistan.