Pakistan secures semi-final spot in SAFF U19 championship


KATHMANDU: Pakistan’s under-19 football team advanced to the semi-finals of the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) U19 Championship in Nepal on Saturday.

Facing off against the Maldives, the Pakistani team initially struggled to score, with the Maldives taking a 1-0 lead in the 39th minute due to a brilliant outside-of-the-boot finish exploiting Pakistan’s defensive weaknesses.

In the second half, Pakistan fought to level the score, but the Maldives held strong against their repeated attacks. Pakistan finally found their breakthrough late in the game when Shah Jahan scored, celebrating by removing his shirt.

Having previously won their opening match against hosts Nepal, Pakistan secured the top spot in Group B with four points from two games. They are now set to compete in the semi-final scheduled for September 27.

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This victory marked Pakistan’s first international win in 12 years, ending a long drought. Their last under-19 international win was in 2011 when they defeated India’s under-19 team.

The 2023 SAFF U19 Championship is being held at the iconic Dashrath Stadium in Kathmandu and features men’s under-19 national teams from the SAFF. The tournament runs from September 21 to September 30.

India is the defending champion, having won their second title in 2022 by defeating Bangladesh in the final.

Pakistan Squad:

Goalkeepers: Sahil Gul, Mohsin Khan, and Muhammad Abdullah

Defenders: Muhammad Sadam, Muhammad Adeel, Asad Nasir, Ans Amin, Khurshid Alam, Muhammad Raheel, Shayan Ali, Kamil Ahmad Khan, Abid Ali, Hannan Naveed, and Najeeb Ullah

Midfielders: Ali Zafar, Muhammad Azan, and Awais Khan

Forwards: Shahjahan, Muhammad Hassan, Faisal Ahmad, Abdul Wahab, Muhammad Haroon Zafar, and Muhammad Adeel Younas

Team Officials: Shadab Ifthikhar (Head Coach), Mohsan Ul Hussnain (Assistant Coach), Khurram Shahzad (Goal Keeper Coach), Aamna (Media), Muhammad Abdullah, and Muhammad Samama (Physio), Zohair Gondal (Team Manager).

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