by Natasha Raheel
KARACHI: The Pakistan Street Children Team suffered a shock defeat as they failed to make it into the quarter-finals of the Norway Cup 2016 by losing 3-0 to Norwegian Club Sotra SK4 in their round-of-16 match in Oslo yesterday.
Pakistan were on an impressive run at the Norway Cup, the biggest youth football competition in the world with more than 200 teams, having topped their group and reaching the knockout stages unbeaten.
They then won their round-of-32 match on penalties against Tistedalen TIF 53. But their run came to a shuddering halt there.
It is particularly heartbreaking for top players such as captain Raziq Mushtaq, playing the U16 event for the last time, especially considering they reached the semi-finals last year.
“It is extremely disappointing and we didn’t play the way we usually do,” team official and Azad Foundation secretary Naveed Hassan Khan told The Express Tribune. “It was raining during the match, and there were weaknesses in our defence.”
Hassan revealed the players are devastated. “It’s heartbreaking for the players; they were not expecting to be defeated this way, and this clearly showed our weaknesses,” he said. “But the good thing is they are willing to learn.”
He added that the team is in Oslo till August 11 and will play at least two friendlies with top Norwegian clubs in order to improve their game before flying out for the Gothia Cup in China.
“We aren’t a professional team. The children who are playing in European clubs are very tactical and have a better footballing sense,” said Naveed