Saturday August 13, 2022

Pakistan go down against Cambodia after taking lead

By Our Correspondent
June 13, 2019

KARACHI: Despite having taken lead Pakistan were put out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup joint qualifiers when they were beaten by Cambodia 2-1 in their home leg outing at the Hamad bin Khalifa Stadium in Doha on Tuesday night.

Pakistan had lost the first leg at Cambodia 0-2 on June 6. Pakistan maintained their poor win-less record in the qualifiers which they first entered in 1989-1990.

Pakistan coach Jose Antonio Nogueira was once again left ruing missed opportunities. He had blamed his team's loss in the first leg on the inability of his players to convert their chances, urging them to get their act together in Tuesday's decider.

“We dominated the first half in which we got many chances,” Nogueira said. “We went up 1-0 and could have scored a few more but that wasn't to be. Also, the Cambodia goalkeeper (Keo Soksela) made some good saves,” he said.

Pakistan had gone ahead in the 18th minute through Hassan Bashir, who struck from the penalty spot after Ouk Sovann had handled the ball inside the box. But after missing out on a few chances in the first half, the Pakistanis were guilty of neglecting their defence, allowing Cambodia to claw back into the game.

“In the second half, we made a mistake and conceded the equaliser. Nobody attacked them. They were free, free, free (inside the box),” said Nogueira. The lack of defensive initiative saw Sath Rosib restore parity in the 64th minute with substitute Reung Bunheing hitting the winner just before the final whistle.

However, Nogueira didn't take away anything from the Cambodians. “They were very good. But it's also a fact that they had more time to train together. They got more friendly matches. We started only in May,” the coach said.

Meanwhile, Cambodia head coach Felix Dalmas is more concerned about the continued development of his team rather than immediate results. Dalmas said they would be practical in their approach. “Our goal is to take one step at a time. I am more interested in the growing process. We want to keep going and we want to keep growing,” the 31-year-old Argentinian said.

“They (Pakistan) put us under pressure. We knew they would come hard at us but we were able to keep playing our game,” he said. “They were very good opponents. They have some good players. But we tried to cancel their chances by keeping possession. We respect them very much and I am glad we won the match,” Dalmas said.”

Pakistani players, who were mostly foreign-based, were scheduled to return to their respective countries on Wednesday evening. Pakistan played without some of their key players because Ashfaq Hussain Shah-led Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) held them back by organising a training camp at the Jinnah Stadium, Islamabad.