By Sports Reporter – DAWN
KARACHI: This time, they did miss him. Unlike their first match at the Al Nakba International where the absence of head coach Mohammad Al Shamlan spurred them on to victory, this time Pakistan couldn’t repeat the trick.
With the Bahraini coach in Jordan having been stopped by the Israeli authorities from travelling through their territory towards Palestine for the tournament, Pakistan went down 1-0 to Jordan on Wednesday, according to information made available here.
Although the name of the scorer couldn’t be ascertained, it was a penalty in the first minute of the match at the Nablus Football Stadium which Jordan converted and it proved to be the winner.
Goalkeeper Ehsanullah kept Pakistan in the game with a number of stunning saves with the best chances at the other end falling to Mohammad Riaz and Mohammad Adil.
Pakistan opened their account at the tournament with a 3-0 win over Sri Lanka on Sunday and Shamlan is likely to remain in Jordan for their final match of the tournament, to commemorate the Nakba or ‘Day of the Catastrophe’ as 700,000 Palestinians fled their homes in 1948, against the hosts on Saturday.
“Shamlan is very likely to stay in Jordan for the final match as well,” an official of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) told Dawn on Wednesday.
“He’s watching the matches on television in his hotel room and is in constant contact with the assistant coaches on the touch-lines at the stadium in Palestine over the team strategy.”
The tournament has already been hit by the withdrawal of the Iraq team after their players were refused permission to travel through Israel.
FIFA has also been informed of the situation brewing in the region and has promised to help Palestinian football to overcome any problems it may face involving the freedom of movement of its players and coaches.
FIFA has set up a mediation task force whilst trying to put in place a formal agreement to settle the issue around the time of the upcoming FIFA Congress in June in Sao Paulo.
Prince Nawaf bin Faisal, the executive president of the Union of Arab Football Associations told the Saudi Sabq electronic newspaper: “I have spoken to FIFA president Sepp Blatter and heads of regional football federations about the difficulties facing the Palestinian people in the sports arena.
“As a result, Fifa has agreed to discuss the issue at its next meeting. Israel will be either expelled or suspended from FIFA if it does not apologise for its action.”
Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2014