Sports Reporter – DAWN
KARACHI: Pakistan’s campaign in the football event at the Asian Youth Games came to an end on Saturday after they lost their final Group ‘D’ match to Vietnam 2-0 in the Chinese city of Nanjing.
Pakistan, who began their campaign brightly with a 3-1 victory over Chinese Taipei, lost their second game to South Korea 2-0 before ending their campaign against a spirited Vietnamese side on Saturday.
After a goalless first-half, Pakistan fell behind in the 63rd minute when Le Van Naam scored before the attacker sealed victory for his side by scoring his second eight minutes later.
“We were unlucky,” Pakistan assistant coach Asghar Khan said after the game. “Our team has good players, they’re excellent. It’s a good competition, a good team must win, but we lost.”
The football team’s performance mirrors that of the handball team which was knocked out of contention after losses in their opening two games — against Iran and Qatar — before they grabbed a consolation win against Vietnam in their final Group ‘A’ match.
Meanwhile, in the final of the 56kg category in the weightlifting competition, Pakistan’s Ali Muheeb finished 12th in the event which was won by China’s Ji Feiyong.
Ali is one of three weight-lifters from the country taking part in the event with the others being Abdur Rehman and Mohammad Zubair.
Pakistan’s hopes in the squash event ride heavily on Mohammad Israr, who earned a first-round bye.
And Asian Junior Under-17 champion Ng Eain Yow admits that being pitted with Israr in the same side of the draw is a tough proposition.
“Israr has beaten me once — in the semi-finals of the British Juniors last year,” the Malaysian told The Star ahead of the Games.
“But I lost to him in five sets … it was a really close fight. I haven’t faced him since but I’d like to believe that I too have improved since that loss.”
Pakistan will have three representatives in the shooting events which start on Sunday.
Hamza Amin will be featuring in Air Pistol event while Ayesha Nadeem (Air Rifle) and Fatima Azeem (Air Pistol) are the other members of the team.
The swimming events, which will see five swimmers form the country vying for honours, start on Monday.
On Friday, the Games were declared open in a grand opening ceremony comprising displays and programmes reflecting the glorious history and culture of China at the Nanjing Stadium, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported.
On a hot, sultry night, the opening ceremony at a packed gymnasium broke the trend of holding Chinese sports events ceremonies in a main stadium, creating more of a theatrical atmosphere than a parade on an athletics field.
The Games, which are in their second edition, will serve as a dress-rehearsal for the upcoming 2014 Summer Youth Olympics, which will also be held in the same city.