Pakistan hold Maldives in SAFF Championships

New Delhi: Title contenders Maldives were held to a goalless draw by a sturdy Pakistan in their second league match of the SAFF Championships on Sunday.

Maldives, who won the seventh edition of the tournament in 2008, were denied domination by the Pakistan side which did not give an inch to their opponents at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium.

With their second draw in as many matches, Maldives are now on two points and need a victory against Bangladesh in their Group B to confirm their place in the semifinals.

Pakistan are also on two points from two draws, having played out another goal-less draw against Bangladesh in their campaign opener on Friday.

They need to win against Nepal in their last league match to qualify for the semifinals.

Maldives coach Istvan Urbanyi made one change to the starting line-up from the last match as Ismail Mohamed was brought in.

Pakistan started with Jadeed Khan Pathan as the lone striker in a 4-5-1 formation.

The two teams took a while to settle down and the first chance fell to Maldives when captain Ali Ashfaq`s glancing header missed the far post narrowly in the eighth minute.

Pakistan were physical in their approach and soon Adnan Ahmed`s cross saw Jadeed Pathan`s header find the back of the net though the linesman raised his flag for off-side.

In the second half too, the pace of the game never picked up and there were several mis-passes in the middle of the park.

Maldives striker Ali Ashfaq missed a sitter in the 88th minute as he shot wide from close range.