From: Alam Zeb Safi (The News)
Thursday, 17 May 2012.
KARACHI: Pakistan Under-22 football team received a major blow when they were held to a goalless draw by Vietnam Under-19 team in their Group A opener of the Al-Nakba International Football Tournament at the Majed Asad Stadium in Palestine on Wednesday.
No contact could be made with the Pakistan team officials over phone due to poor telecommunication network. But a team official told ‘The News’ through a message that the match ended in a goalless draw.
“Pakistan should have won the game,” Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) secretary Col Ahmad Yar Khan Lodhi told ‘The News’.
The draw against Vietnam has made the situation difficult for the Greenshirts as they opened their account with one point and now will need a win against hosts Palestine in their last game on May 18 to qualify for the semifinals.
Palestine are in stronger position as they only need a draw to make it to the last four, having beaten Vietnam 2-0 in their first match.
However, if Pakistan notches off a draw against Palestine, then they will fight for a slot in the top four as the best second placed team, which looks difficult considering the fact that Palestine are fielding their senior team and will also have home advantage.
Pakistan have always faced problems in finishing and a message of an official to this correspondent indicated that the team once again failed to put up an improved show in that area although majority of the players in Pakistan Under-22 team have played for the senior team.
The draw is disappointing also because the boys had a two-week tour of Thailand last month. Besides, nine of the players got ample practice during the AFC President’s Cup in Lahore in the second week of this month while representing KRL.
Former Pakistan coach Tariq Lutfi said that Zavisa usually plays safe and defensive game. “I think Zavisa Milosavljevic does not have an attacking mind and usually plays defensive and with packed defence. He does not want to lose the match in any way,” Tariq told this correspondent.
“We would not be able to run our football with this pattern for long. If you play so safe, then in tough competitions like the Asian Cup Qualifiers in which strong teams will be taking on Pakistan there will be many problems,” said Tariq, who was replaced by Zavisa last year as a coach.
Vietnamese are good, he said, but they were playing with their Under-19 team and Pakistan should have beaten them.
Tariq said that Pakistan could face more problems against Palestine in their last game. “In the last game, Pakistan could again face problems as Palestine will have home advantage,” Tariq said. Meanwhile, in a Group B game, Iraqi Kurdistan inflicted a 3-1 crushing defeat on Mauritania.