KARACHI: Pakistan Under-22 football team will be desperately looking to pull off a win when they face Kyrgyzstan in their vital Group B showdown of the 2013 Asian Cup Qualifiers at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh on Thursday (today).
The match starts at 10:45pm PST with Saudi TV channel Al-Riyadiah scheduled to broadcast it live.
Pakistan, who have just one point from two games in the six-team pool, need to win all their remaining three matches to move into the next year’s tournament proper.
After going 0-1 down against hosts Saudi Arabia on June 23, Pakistan were unexpectedly held to a goalless draw by Sri Lanka the other day.
Another loss will show the exit door to the Greenshirts who made hectic preparation for around two and a half months for this assignment.
Pakistan coach Zavisa Milosavljevic had said before the tournament that the team’s finishing had improved, but their weakness in this area was exposed when the frontline missed numerous chances against Sri Lanka.
Football experts here said that in place of Riaz Ahmad and Rashid Ali in the frontline Pakistan should play with Mohammad bin Younis and Zakir Lashari as they have good coordination and would be able to score goals for the team. The experienced duo was also part of Pakistan’s recent tours of Thailand, Palestine and Bahrain.
Vice-captain Faisal Iqbal should be used in the midfield as using him in the deep in the previous matches has affected the team’s performance, they said.
When this correspondent asked Zavisa about his formation against Kyrgyzstan, he said that Pakistan would go all out against their rivals. “As we are already missing our two key players, the injured left-back Ahsanullah and the suspended midfielder Junaid Qadir, we will try to make a fresh setting which I cannot disclose at the moment,” Zavisa told ‘The News’ from Riyadh in an interview on Wednesday.
The players were given rest on Wednesday so that their minor injuries could be healed ahead of the Thursday’s game.
Zavisa admitted that skipper Kaleemullah had completely failed both as player and captain at the important event.
“Yes, Kaleem is a big disappointment,” said the apparently depressed coach. “Most of the people were favouring Kaleem but you know he has scored just a single goal in the last ten matches and that too on penalty,” the coach said.
“As a captain too he failed to impress,” he said.
“I don’t say that he does not have potential but I would say that he has failed to show the kind of temperament he possesses,” he said.
“The player will need a lot of work if he wants to play for Pakistan in future,” Zavisa said.
In other matches to be held on Thursday, Saudi Arabia will face Palestine, while Sri Lanka will lock horns with Syria.
Both Saudi Arabia and Syria are heading the table with six points each, followed by Sri Lanka with two points, and Palestine and Pakistan with one point each. Kyrgyzstan are yet to open their account.