Pakistan colts were sent packing when they lost to Iran 0-2 in their Group E match of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-16 Championship Qualifiers at the Punjab Stadium in Lahore on Friday. This was the second successive loss for the Greenshirts who were also beaten by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 2-0 in their opener on Wednesday.
Iran, who had crushed Sri Lanka 8-0 in their first match the other day, went ahead through Nima Mukhtari Dehabneh in the 30th minute. At half time, they were leading 1-0. In the second half the visitors added to their tally when Mohammad Shamsi scored for them in the 78th minute.
In spite of the second win, Iran’s position is not yet confirmed. Their main rivals are UAE and the lone qualifiers from the group to the next year’s main round in Thailand will be decided after the key battle between the two on Sunday (tomorrow).
In spite of the loss Pakistan coach Sajjad Mehmood was satisfied with his team’s performance. “Iran were a tough side as their players were physically very strong and our boys had problem in body contact. But still we restricted them to only two goals,” Sajjad told ‘The News’ after the match.
“We also got three chances but could not be availed. But overall it were Iran who played technically solid game,” Sajjad observed. However he was quick to add that substantial improvement was seen in the team’s performance as compared to the SAFF Championship.
“In the SAFF Championship we played with the teams of our region and there we held Bhutan and Afghanistan and lost to Nepal. But here you see we played against tough sides of the UAE and Iran who have strong structure but still we put them in trouble and it’s a good sign,” he said.
“Previously we were losing to Iran with eight, ten and even 14 goals margin but now we have brought down the same ratio to just two goals which shows that we have made improvement,” Sajajd pointed out.
Meanwhile, in the match of the day, UAE were leading 5-0 against Sri Lanka in the first half till filing of the story. Pakistan will now face minnows Sri Lanka in their last game on Sunday.