Pakistan U23 fought tooth and nail with hosts Sri Lanka U23 to a 0-0 draw to reach the final of the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Football Cup 2012 being played at the Jayathilaka Stadium in Nawalapitiya (Sri Lanka).
Pakistan will now face Maldives U23 in the final on Sunday, 9 Dec 2012, in a repeat of the game played on 5 Dec 2012.
Pakistan only needed a draw against the hosts today to confirm their place in the final on goal difference and head-to-head tiebreaker. Bangladesh had same number of points as Pakistan after they had beaten Maldives 1-0 earlier in day.
This is Pakistan’s first final of an event since the 2006 South Asian Games football final which they won against Sri Lanka 1-0.
Pakistan had defeated Bangladesh 1-0 in their opener before losing to Maldives 0-1 in their second clash in which Saeed Ahmed had missed the penalty at a time when national coach Zavisa’s charges were losing with a single goal.
“Although, we qualified for the final but I am disappointed as our team is not scoring goals,” Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) secretary Col Ahmed Yar Lodhi told ‘The News’ after the match.
“I have been told by a team official from Sri Lanka that our players missed four to five chances which is not a good sign,” he said.
“I have come to the conclusion that the team needs intensive international exposure as our players although score goals in the domestic competitions but when they go abroad they cannot convert even open-net chances which is really a worrying factor,” Lodhi added.
The PFF spent around Rs5.2 million on the team’s Sri Lanka tour and had spent Rs4.8 million on the senior team’s recent tour to Singapore, disclosed Lodhi.
“I am now convinced that there should be an international tour for the team in two months time,” he conceded.