Pakistan go into their final group B game against Nepal looking for nothing else but a win if they are to progress to semi-finals for the first time since 2005 SAFF Championship in Karachi. Pakistan held Maldives to a goalless draw in their previous game, second draw in a row, while Nepal snatched a last minute winner against Bangladesh.
Pakistan’s game play improved from the first game but so did their opponent, which forced Pakistan onto the back foot for large parts of first half but both teams had enough opportunities to score and take the 3points, Pakistan managed to put the ball into the goal through Jadeed Pathan only to be ruled offside, with Ali Ashfaq firing wide late on to share the spoils.
Nepal have one foot in the semi-finals but a defeat to Pakistan and a result for Maldives against Bangladesh could see Graham Roberts side return home early having made the most noise during this tournament and prior to it. Maldives and Bangladesh both had put up good fight against the dominating Nepal side and Pakistan is expected to do the same with everything to play for.
Pakistan will have to take their chances in this game because they have wasted enough in the previous games, had they taken those they could have gone through to the semi-finals by now. Pakistan’s defence once again stood tall against Maldives while the midfield started to play the ball more on ground and creating better chances than opening game. Nepal is a complete side with high standard of fitness and well organised game plan by Graham Roberts, they should have qualified too if they had taken chances against Maldives.
Pakistan will have to look out for Anil Gurung, the pacey forward could cause problems for Pakistan while Santosh Sahukhala is another one to keep an eye on. On the other side Pakistani defence dealt with danger men of Bangladesh and Maldives, they will be backing themselves to do the same. Pakistan’s most creative forward has been Shakir Lashari, that too off the bench and deserves a starting place if Pakistan is to score early to set the pace of the game. Adnan Ahmed has benefitted from moving on to the wing as the central midfield had seen very little play in the opening game.
Every Pakistan player will have to be at their best tomorrow in making the most of their chances if they are to progress, something not many had expected when the draw was made because Tariq Luti was incharge of the team. The team has done well staying the tournament until final group game. Nepal coach Graham Roberts will be looking to get one over Pakistan for the ill-treatment he was given during the contract negotiation last year resulting in no deal for him with the Greenshirts.
Players to watch:
Nepal: Anil Gurung, Sabtosh Sahukhala, Rohit Chand
Pakistan, Adnan Ahmed, Shakir Lashari, Rizwan Asif