Either Pakistan or Bangladesh stand a chance to progress, provided other results favour the victor...
It could possibly end up being a match of the tournament. After finding themselves stuck on a point each, Pakistan and Bangladesh will go into their Group ‘A’ believing that they have a chance of qualifying for the semi-finals of the SAFF Championship; provided the other match (Nepal vs India) goes in the winning team's favour.
In round 2 of the Group ‘A’ matches, Pakistan and Bangladesh both drew with their respective opponents viz Nepal and India.
Pakistan coach Shaahzad Anwar was a crestfallen man at the press conference, as he saw his team surrender a lead in injury time to Nepal, after resisting all their attacks for more than 70 minutes.
The coach though, acknowledged that it had been a good game to be a part of, while congratulating Nepal. “We have a good solid defense. The Nepal team attack had too many manipulations and too many crosses. Unfortunately the one ball that we missed, they scored.”
He knows that to stand any chance of progress to the next round Pakistan need to play out of their skin and get the goals necessary to cushion themselves. The one-time semi-finalists of SAFF have work cut out for them especially after gifting a victory to India in the first match.
What will heighten their anxiety is that they will face a team who are putting up a fight to remain in the group as well in Bangladesh.
Their last match against India showed they had no intent on going out quietly in the tournament, fighting to hold a lead till the 90th minute only to have it wiped out by Sunil Chhetri in what was the last kick of the game.
In his post-match interview, Dutch coach de Kruif lamented his side's result, claiming the referee favoured India.
“I can tell you that the Sri Lankan official and fourth official, who was our referee against Nepal, has destroyed the game for us.”
“The man (fourth official) maybe had a bad night or quarrel with his wife, but the guy was crazy from the first moment. He was complaining to the bench, there was always something with regards to cards, shoes, even maybe our hair. I need to ask him why I was sent off. I want to ask him but when I see him I might want to do something else now,” added the coach.
He praised his team nonetheless and vowed to fight another day. “I think that if you were to compare the game today with against Nepal, we had fighting spirit and good organization, against a team which also was organized. My boys did fantastically well, they fought until the last second and all the hard work resulted in a good goal for us.”
This kind of mental attitude will be necessary for them if they stand a chance against Pakistan. Also they need one of the teams amongst India or Nepal to lose and themselves to win handsomely to stand a chance of gaining a semi-final position.
In the event that both teams are on the same goal difference, then the next parameter i.e. goals scored will be analyzed.
The coaches of the Tigers and Shahins can take solace from the fact that their teams are capable of finding an extra gear and if they pull out the right tricks against each other, it could turn out to be a treat for the football favourites. Expect a humdinger.
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