Published in the Express Tribune
KARACHI: For Hasan Baloch, coach of the national juniors’ team, the level of competition among the under-16 players of the country surpasses that of the senior team footballers.
Speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing National U16 Football Championship, Baloch said that regularly holding tournaments for the younger players is a chance for them to display their skills.
“None of these players would get a chance to play the national U16 again, next year we will have new faces,” Baloch told The Express Tribune. “The real purpose of tournaments like these is to keep looking for better players. These young footballers are more competitive than the senior players. The level of competition this year has improved and each quarter-final going into extra-time shows that these players are motivated.”
Baloch added that the lack of high-scoring matches in the juniors’ events is a positive sign.
“It shows that the level of skills among the under-16 players is the same throughout the country. We can groom these players before the Asian Football Confederation U16 Championship that will take place in September this year.”
Sindh, Abbottabad through to semis
Sindh and hosts Abbottabad qualified for the semi-finals after winning their respective matches on penalty-kicks at the Kunj Stadium.
Sindh began their rain-delayed quarter-final against Punjab with Munir Ahmed scoring the opening goal in the 25th minute.
Punjab then equalised through Muhammad Ehsan in the 66th minute. Both sides failed to gain a lead in the stipulated time before Sindh emerged victorious on penalty kicks 4-2.
On the other hand, Abbottabad also survived a scare against Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B). The hosts conceded the opening goal in the eighth minute before their striker Shahbaz Khan scored the equaliser in the 35th. Abbottabad eventually won with the same scoreline as Sindh.
Abbottabad now play Balochistan and Sindh face Karachi Youth Team in the semi-finals today.