By Gauhar Mahmood Azeem
Pakistan National Football team failed to score once again Sunday and crashed out of the World Cup Qualifying round by losing to Bangladesh 3-0 on aggregate having drawn this game 0-0.
Needing 4 goals to progress to the next round tonight, Pakistan Coach Tariq Lutfi fielded a 4-4-2 formation with the foreign based Atif Bashir and Adnan Ahmed providing the steam through mid-field. As it turned out those two were the only ones whose fire wasn’t dampened by the massacre in rainy Dhaka four days earlier.
From the first minute the team looked for quick long balls to the strike force of Muhammad Arif and Rasool to convert into a goal but more often than not those balls were hoofed long or wide off their intended targets.
Qasim and Hassnain were useless on the wings. Qasim needed an early replacement in KaleemUllah due to injury, leading the fans to wish for a very speedy recovery and a return for the former.
The only real chances of the first half were a couple of half-hearted attempts wide by Rasool from the edge of the area and an audacious over-head kick from Atif Bashir.
The second half saw more of the same. Bangladesh had packed their defence, only to miss the occasional counter they could muster up.
A shot from the left foot of Adnan around 70’ minutes a foot wide of the goal post was the closest Pakistan got to scoring the entire game. This wasn’t a real surprise as we have only scored 3 goals in this present disastrous Lutfi era.
As KaleemUllah failed to put a pass together, the coaches happily persisted with the Chaman man. Only during the last 10 minutes did the coaches need the feel for a change as they brought on Ahmed Akbar for Muhammad Arif. Arif had run his socks off chasing wild-long balls all night while Ahmed impressed and put in a show that suggested he should’ve had more minutes during the tie.
The general public stand which was over-crowded with hopeful fans during the game began to empty out near the 80th minute as the fans couldn’t see a goal coming.
A tame Pakistan side launched another long ball as the referee blew the whistle for full time ending this painful two-legged tie which could prove to be the last bit of international sport in Pakistan till the Olympic 2016 Qualifier in 2015.
The Bangladeshi players celebrated, not a single could’ve have imagined though that they would win the tie 3-0 on aggregate. After all 3 years back when they played us in Dhaka, they managed not a single shot on goal. Much of the credit of their success goes to the Pakistani coaches and team management as their new Croatian coach only joined the teams three days before the match. Pathetic team selection and inexplicable tactics, especially during the Dhaka game were the reasons for defeat. It rained in Lahore on Sunday too, let’s put it on the rain again.
See you in Russia 2018. Lutfi Sb have mercy and leave!
The writer was intentionally short with this match report, as it was a repeat of the long ball and running into blind alleys through-out. He was bored during the game and doesn’t want to bore you with details of the same!