An enthusiastic Pakistan side conquered Malaysia Under-19 football team beating them 3-1 in their practice match at Shah Alam Stadium Selangor in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.
Pakistan drew the first blood through second-half substitute Hassan Bashir who hit a superb goal through a pile-driver from distance after he was smartly fed by Mohammad Riaz in the 46th minute.
However, Malaysia’s young side fought back and equalised through Badrul Amin in the 61st minute.
Four minutes later, the visitors once again put themselves ahead when Naveed Ahmed’s headed in from a Mansoor Khan corner-kick.
In the 67th minute, Riaz sealed the victory when he capitalised on a pass from Hassan Bashir.
Pakistan’s manager Asghar Khan Anjum said the team won due to their maturity.
“We won due to maturity. In the start the team did not play well but as time progressed, the boys raised their game which paid dividends,” Asghar told ‘The News’ from Selangor.
“Our finishing was extremely well in the second-half. In the first-half, Saadullah, Riaz and Mansoor missed open opportunities,” he said.
He said the field was heavy.
“It was a heavy, grassy pitch. The weather was hot but a light drizzle in the initial ten minutes of the match turned it pleasant,” Asghar said.
Pakistan used 16 of their 19 players in the squad which is preparing for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers first round against Yemen next month.
Gloveman Muzammil Hussain played in most of the game with his back-up Saqib Hanif serving under the cage for the last 15 to 20 minutes.
Danish defender Nabil Aslam impressed Asghar.
“Nabil played the whole game and was in his element,” he said.
“Nabil’s induction in the squad will help us. He is a mature player and pairing up with professional Zeeshan Rehman, if he joins us, we will have a formidable defence for our tie against Yemen,” Asghar said.
“Our defender Bilal is also good enough. Mohammad Ahmed is also a mature defender. But we don’t know when he will join us. He is busy in the Bahraini league. He needs to join us soon. If he joins late then we will not need him. The coach says they should practice under him for at least a few days before the qualifiers so that they could adjust to the playing system and gel well,” the official said.
Kyrgzystan-based Kaleemullah, Mohammad Adil and Saddam Hussain are more likely to join the team in Thailand.
“Our joining of the national team will be decided by tomorrow,” Kaleem told this correspondent from Bishkek on Monday.
Kaleem said the victory against Malaysia Under-19 team was good for the team.
“It would boost the morale of our team. Such matches are useful and will boost the confidence of the players ahead of the World Cup qualifiers,” the striker said.
Former Pakistan’s assistant coach Nasir Ismail also praised the team.
“It’s a better sign. The team progresses slowly. The induction of Nabil will help the team a lot in the qualifiers,” Nasir said.
The country’s most senior coach and a former PFF official Siddiq Sheikh said it was good to see the team building up.
“It’s nice that the team has started to deliver. The practice matches in Malaysia and Thailand will help Shamlan to decide a good combination for qualifiers. Pakistan’s away leg would be very important. They should lose that,” said Sheikh.
Pakistan will play their next match against Malaysia’s Under-23 side on February 26 under floodlights.
Then Pakistan will move to Bangkok on March 1 to play a couple of practice matches there. On March 7, the team will return home and on March 9, they will fly for Doha to face Yemen in the away leg of the qualifiers on March 12. The second leg will be conducted at Lahore on March 17.