Pakistan, Bangladesh play out dull draw in SAFF opener

New Delhi: The few chances they got went abegging as the opening match of the SAFF Championship football tournament between Pakistan and Bangladesh ended in a drab, goal-less draw on Friday.

The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, hosting a football match after a gap of 20 years, wore a deserted look as the two South Asian nations failed to live up proceedings.

Enjoying the bulk of possession initially, Pakistan came close to scoring in the 24th minute after Jadeed Pathan Khan crossed from the right side, but Faisal Iqbal fumbled and failed to tap the ball into an open net.

Bangladesh goalkeeper Sahidul Alam was nowhere to be seen. The easy miss had an impact on the Pakistan team as Bangladesh gradually started to find their bearings, often creating moves which though never materialised in a goal.

It was, however, Pakistan who were still dominating proceedings at the midfield. The stronger of the two sides physically, Pakistan relied on counter-attacks with their long clearances.

Around the halfway stage, Bangladesh found an opening but Ariful Islam`s header off a corner hit the horizontal. Striker Jahid Hussain Ameli tried his best but could not find the target despite three attempts, every time the ball going off a deflection of one or the other defender.

There was a chance for Pakistan in the second half but they could not capitalise.

Much was expected of key players Adnan Farooq Ahmed, who plies his trade in the United Kingdom, and Atif Bashir Quereshi, but they could not get the elusive goal.

Even Ameli of Bangladesh, on whom the 142nd ranked team normally relies for getting them the goals, failed to do anything spectacular on the field.

Bangladesh`s Macedonian coach Nikola Ilievski made a substitution at the half time, bringing in Mithun Chowdhury, but that did not prove to be successful.

Mithun though came close to scoring once in the second half before fluffing. All in all, the opener turned out to be a damp squib.


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