Alam Zeb Safi [The News]
KARACHI: After their 1-0 victory against India on Monday, Pakistan are eyeing another victory against Maldives on Wednesday (today) to make it to the semis of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Under16 Championships underway in Kathmandu.
While a draw at the Dashrath Rangasala Stadium will be sufficient for the Greenshirts to carve a niche in the last-four, Pakistan coach Sajjad Mehmood said that his team’s top priority is to win agianst Maldives.
“I have told my boys that after beating India we should put in extra effort to oust Maldives in tomorrow’s game to make it to the semifinals,” Sajjad told ‘The News’ from Kathmandu after the team’s practice session on Tuesday evening.
Sajjad said that he has worked with his players and psychologically motivated them ahead of the crucial clash.
“Naturally when a team beats a better side, they get relaxed but it is the job of the coach to focus on the main target. So far I have been able to convince and prepare the players with renewed vigour,” the coach said.
He hoped that striker Mansoor Khan and skipper Muneer Aftab will be fit before Wednesday’s match.
“Both Mansoor and Muneer had pulled their muscles against India due to the heavy pitch but both trained with the team in the evening and I hope that they will be fit,” he said.
The pitch at the venue, which also hosted Nepal’s World Cup qualifier against Jordan recently, looked dry on Tuesday due to clear skies and the coach said that Pakistan would be able to produce a stunning performance if the weather reamains the same on Wednesday.
“The pitch looked dry today and if it does not rain tomorrow, the pitch will be in an ideal state to play on,” Sajjad said.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s former English consultant and the current coach of the Nepal senior team Graham Roberts also met with Sajjad and appreciated his side’s splendid performance against India.
“Roberts lauded our excellent effort against India during a short meeting,” Sajjad said.
Roberts had served as consultant of the Pakistan team during the Asian Games in China last year in which the Greenshirts had flopped. In a Group B match on Tuesday, Bangladesh whipped Sri Lanka 6-2.