By Shahrukh Sohail, Chief Editor, Islamabad
Pakistan were able to come out on top in their opening game in Philippines with captain Zesh Rehman scoring his first International goal in a narrow 1-0 win.
Coming into the tie, Chinese Taipei were the ones on a roll after having beaten the hosts earlier. But Pakistan made the perfect start to proceedings as they managed to find the back of the net after a flurry of attacks inside ten minutes.
Skipper Zesh was the surprise goal-scorer as he took full advantage of his superior positioning and found the back of the net from Hassan Bashir’s deflected shot on the 7th minute.
After scoring, Pakistan went forward at every chance and Mehmood Khan of KRL looked particularly impressive in the opening clashes.
However, Chinese Taipei were equally determined to level things and only the heroics of Yousuf Butt managed to keep them at bay. The BGKA talisman kept Taiwan out from a corner, while on the other end, Hassan’s shot from just inside the box went agonizingly wide with 24 minutes gone.
Taipei continued to press and even had an attempt from a free-kick, but goalkeeper Butt was determined to keep his first International clean-sheet and was in top form.
Coach Mohammad Al-Shamlan spruced up things before the break and brought on Kaleemullah, while Taipei also made a similar change, but at half-time, Pakistan were in front with a 1-0 lead.
The Taiwanese were fully determined to score and showed their intent from the start, but after dribbling past the Pakistani defence, their strikers were just unable to convert guilt-edged chances.
On 71 minutes, Taipei nearly knocked the stuffing out of the Shaheens as they hit the cross-bar, but after being unlucky in their past few games, lady luck finally shined on the 2006 SAF Games winners.
As time wore on, Mehmood Khan came off for the returning Rizwan Asif in the 80th minute and in the posts, Yousuf was putting up a man-of-the-match performance.
Saving shot after shot, the Denmark-based goalkeeper’s piece –de-resistance came in injury time as he denied the Taiwanese a confirm long-range goal and grasped three points for his side.
Captain Zesh Rehman was greatly pleased with the result and with his goal, but claimed that it was a team effort that ultimately resulted in the win.
“Good 1~0 Win in our opening game of The Peace Cup against Chinese Taipei. Pleased to score my 1st International goal as Captain. #Teameffort,” said the former Fulham defender on the social networking side, Twitter.
Highlights of the game can be watched here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10202456438914883&set=vb.66377055233&type=2&theater