Pakistan look to pull off consolation win

By our correspondent
BENGALURU, India: Following a dismal show in the previous two games which also caused the country’s ouster from the SAFF Championship 2023 Pakistan will be desperately looking to pull off a consolation win when they meet technically strong Nepal in their last Group A outing of the biennial eight-nation event at the Sree Kanteerava Stadium Bengaluru on Tuesday (today).
Pakistan badly failed to impress in the event despite the presence of a bulk of foreign-based players who have been playing in different leagues and were never suffered when Pakistan football was passing through tough times during the last seven years.
But no respite has been achieved by the team management with the strategy to ignore local brand with the Green-shirts conceding eight goals in two games they lost with 4-0 identical score-line against arch-rivals India and Kuwait which are featuring in the event as invitees.
Nepal also lost both of their games but there was a grace in losing. They went down 3-1 against Kuwait before being beaten by India 2-0 in their second show which also caused their expulsion from the event which India is hosting for the fourth time.
Former Pakistan captain Mohammad Essa on Monday said that Pakistan should play positive game against Nepal.
“Pakistan will need to play positive game against Nepal tomorrow. They should boost their defence capability as due to severe defence blunders they conceded goals in the last two games against India and Kuwait. The gap between the defence line and midfield was too big which created issues,” Essa told thecricketplus.com from his hometown Chaman.
“We should not play too defensive football and there should be attacking game as well. The win is extremely important for Pakistan so that at least the nation could finish either at the fifth or sixth place. If we lose this game we will end at the rock bottom,” Essa said.
“Pakistan team is not that bad but we should play a positive game as the win will bring back the confidence of the fans. It will also be important for the players, coach and the country,” Essa said.
“Nepal is a good team, keeps possession of the ball and plays with discipline. We will also need to play with discipline and play positive game. If we repeat the mistakes which we made in the last game against Kuwait then I don’t think we will be able to win this game also” Essa said.
Essa urged team management to make selection on merit.
“The team management should follow merit and I firmly believe if we give chance to the deserving players then we will have an opportunity of a win against Nepal,” said Essa, also a current coach of Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), Pakistan’s top team.
Essa said that barring three foreign-based players the rest don’t deserve selection.
He also advised the coach Shehzad Anwar to play goalie Saqib Hanif against Nepal.
“The coach should give confidence to Saqib. He is an experienced gloveman and also has smart international and club career. He can do well,” said Essa, who also holds AFC License B certificate.
Pakistan squad: Goalkeepers: Saqib Hanif, Salman-ul-Haq, Yousaf Ijaz Butt; Defenders: Muhammad Umar Hayat, Ali Khan Niazi, Muhammad Sufyan, Mamoon Moosa Khan, Syed Abdullah Shah, Haseeb Ahmed Khan, Sardar Wali, Easah Suliman, Abdullah Iqbal; Midfielders: Alamgir Ali Khan Ghazi, Ali Uzair Mahmood, Moin Ahmed, Shayak Dost, Muhammad Waleed Khan, Rahis Nabi, Harun Hamid, Muhammad Adnan Yaqoob; Forwards: Abdul Samad Shahzad, Otis Jan Mohammad Khan, Hassan Naweed Bashir, Muhammad Waheed.

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