By Maaz Ahmed
KARACHI, Mar 5: The 2nd test between Pakistan and Palestine ended in a goalless draw, here in the Peoples Football Stadium, in Lyari. Palestine dominated in a game in which both the goalkeepers were the heroes of their respective teams’, despite the lack of shots on target.
Palestine dominated the game right from the start, with a myriad of opportunities down the flanks, while the Pakistanis maintained their counter-attacking, “hit’em on the break” football. A cagey first half ended with no shots on goal from either side, despite a host of opportunities down the right flank for the Palestinian team, whose wide-men delivered many crosses all over the box but failed to find the target.
The atmosphere at the Peoples Football Stadium didn’t display the ‘football culture’ many would expect, but an estimated number of 5,000 Pakistani fans gave both the teams a warm welcome to a venue that hasn’t see all the international football it deserves. A number of Palestinian supporters were vocal in their support for the away side, adding a lot more to the spectacle.
The game opened with Palestine wanting to keep the ball with short passes and slick movement as the Pakistani midfield sat back, looking for the right time to push forward on the counter. Palestinians chose to attack down the wings from the very beginning as the Pakistani fullbacks played more inward than choosing to defend on the sides. The visitors came close on the 40th minute when a back pass was played to the home team’s goalkeeper who did well to keep the opposing striker off the ball by a quick movement off his line.
At half time, neither side looked satisfied with the way things panned out to be, as the players walked into the dressing rooms with disbelief painted all over their faces.
A dull opening to the second half tested the patience of the audience and then duly delivered with a sudden turn towards exciting football. The Palestinians made it clear that they were hungry for more and out to win the 2nd game as well by switching to more attacking tactics, which was followed by a change in formation from the traditional 4-4-2 to a more attacking form of the modern 4-3-2-1. Palestinian attacks that had started from the wing and ended by a clearance from the Pakistani defenders were now being launched from the centre, towards the flanks with quicker attempts to play the ball in.
The first threat to the Pakistani goal came when their defence was tricked by a clever flick over the top to Palestinian forward Atif Abdullah who went 1 on 1 with Omer, but was denied by the Pakistani goalie who pulled off a brilliant save. Pakistan’s first real chance came in the 63rd minute but Mehmood Khan shot over the goal after cleverly beating his marker. Both the coaches introduced fresh legs in an attempt to change the course of the game. Pakistan’s Alamgir Khan got cautioned for a clumsy challenge while Palestine captain Suleiman Obaid was through on goal, the resulting free-kick was delivered deep into the area and found the safe hands Pakistan’s Muhammad Omer.
The home fans got a real scare when the home team’s goalkeeper failed to control a simple back pass, as the ball slipped from under his foot and was on its way to the goal, but Omer reacted well and cleared the ball off the line by sliding with both his legs. The end of the game witnessed more excitement, with a chance every minute on both ends, but the game was destined to end in a draw.
This match report was prepared by The Daily News writer Maaz Ahmed who was covering the game for FootballPakistan.Com and gave live updates throughout the game. The FPDC staff will like to thank Maaz Ahmed for his auspicious services in the game today.