By Muhammad Shahnawaz
Pakistan will go into the opening game of 2011 SAFF Championship against Bangladesh who seem
to have their number as the green kickers have failed to beat them in the previous 6 outings at senior team level under both
foreign and local coaches and this includes one world cup first round drubbing this year. However the margins of defeat under Salman Sharida was 1-0 and George Kottan’s side in 2009 managed to hold goalless draw but it was under Tariq Lutfi
that the team faced humiliation.
Pakistan were thumped 3-0 in Dhaka in the first leg of 2014 World Cup Qualifying, First Preminalry
Round, a game which many feel should have not gon ahead due to waterlogged pitch and
the hosts took advantage of the conditions and punished Pakistan. Pakistan looked below
par, lack of planning and poor preparation and team selection proving to be the major factor in
the final outcome.
Pakistan played out a goalless draw in the return leg, in a game which Bangladesh were not eager
to come out of their own half and take risks while Pakistan never had it in them to score 4goals and
progress. In Dhaka Pakistan went with 4-3-3, a catastrophic strategy (or lack of) while Bangladesh at
home deployed 4-5-1 and yet got the result they wanted.
Pakistan fans breathed a sigh of relief after the appointment of Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevich,
but poor preparations without a tour abroad or international friendly matches, pre-determined
squad has left fans expecting very little. However the coach is trying to make the most of what is
available to him.
Bangladesh are clear favourites again ahead of this clash, who trained under the Macedonian Nikola
Illiveski for some time and upset Lebanon in the return leg of the 2nd Qualifying Round, Bangladesh
took late steps to play against B-League Champions, a Select Foreign Eleven as well as playing
against a Malaysian league side. Players like Zahid Hossien and Jahid Hasan Emily will be a threat
which Pakistan must handle carefully, just like they did in 2009 SAFF Cup, but only without Ajmad
Iqbal and Shabir Khan but failed this summer without them.
Atif Bashir and Adnan Ahmed will have burden the main responsibility and organise the team on
the pitch and stick to the game plan for Pakistan because lack of experience amongst youngsters.
Recalling Jaffar Khan as Captain has raised concern amongst fans, who was culprit of 2 of the goals
against Bangladesh, as well as mid-tournament retirement in 2009 which resulted in divided team
hence failing to progress. On a positive not recalling Shakir Lashari is indication that the coach will go
out to get the best available players in the country.
The coach and players have been very quiet with no media interaction and keeping their emotions in
check, a stark contrast to Mr Lutfi who was quick to have high expectations without substance and
after founding faults and failing to take responsibility.
The first game under the new coach for Pakistan will be a challenge indeed. If Pakistan can take revenge for the past half a dozen defeats to Bangladesh, only time can tell!
The games are live on TenSports Pakistan, TenAction India, Youtube, and Ustream.
Pakistan: Adnan Ahmed, Atif Bashir and Rizwan Asif
Bangladesh: Zahid Hossien, Nasirul Islam and Jahid Hassan Emily