Dhaka – Pakistan awaiting for the semifinal berth from Group A of the seven-nation 12th SAFF Suzuki Cup’18 eliminating all-losers Bhutan by 3-0 goals in the well dominating last group match at the country’s premier sports venue –Bangabandhu National Stadium here on Saturday.Despite the day’s well merited win, the semifinals berth of Pakistan is still hanging on the outcome of the Saturday’s last Group A match between hosts Bangladesh and Nepal, due for 7 pm start at the same venue.
Bangladesh needed just a draw against visiting Nepal in the last group match to confirm their semifinal berth after missing the berth in the last three editions while it will be a must-win match for Nepal to book a seat for semifinal.
With the feat, Pakistan topped Group A list securing six points from all the three group encounters by virtue of the better goal difference (5-2) beating Nepal 2-1, Bhutan 3-0 after conceding 0-1 defeat against hosts Bangladesh.
Bangladesh followed them securing six points from only two matches with a goal difference (3-0) after beating Bhutan 2-0 and Pakistan 1-0 while Nepal were in the 3rd slot collecting three points from two matches with a goal difference of (5-2) outplaying Bhutan 4-0 after conceding 1-2 defeat against Pakistan in the opening match.
Bhutan is eliminated from the meet empty hand without any point losing all the matches conceding nine goals scoring any.In the day’s match, Medio Muhammad Riaz, striker Hassan Bashir and substitute Faheem Ahmed scored one each for Pakistan, which dominated the first half by 2-0.
Muhammad Riaz put Pakistan ahead in the 20th minute by a right footed close range placing shot from a difficult angle, utilizing a header of his captain Saddam Hussain giving no score to opponent custodian (1-0).
Hassan Bashir doubled the Pakistan margin in the 29th minute, also by right footed placing shot from top of the box beating advancing custodian, off Muhammad Ali long pass from right flank (2-0).
Faheem Ahmed sealed the fate of the match in the first minute of the injury time (91st minute) by a cool left footer from close, capitalizing on a Muhammad Ali pass from top of the box (3-0).
Pakistan started firing all cylinders and skipper Saddam Hossain curved a cross at the middle of the box and forward Hassan Bashir powered a head that was punched for a corner in the 10th minute.
Two minutes later forward Muhammad Ali darted down the right flank and cut the ball back to Hassan Bashi whose angular effort whistled past the side post.
Bhutan reacted instantly with a quick counter attack breaking the Pakistani defense with a precise build up but Chencho Gyaltsen, the Bhutanese forward miscued his right footer from the top of the eight yard box.
Pakistan was frustrated in the 41st minute to see and Muhammad Riaz’s fierce side volley on a Saddam Hossain cross rebound off the crosspiece.
Bhutan tried to return in the game after the resumption with all-out attacks and midfielder Kencho Tobgay forced Pakistani goalie Yusuf Ijaz Butt to stretch to his limit turning the 20-yarder into a corner in the 48th minute.
Pakistan dropped down to defend the score-line and Bhutan intensified their attacks. However, their efforts continued to stop at the edge of the box. Bhutan missed a chance in the 82nd minute with forward Kabi Raj Rai’s glancing header on a Kingay Rabgay cross missed the post by a few inches and two minutes later Chenco’s scorching drive was punched to safety by Yusuf Ijaz Butt.
Pakistan started their international football campaign after around a four-year break through the tournament, and made winning start with 2-1 victory against Nepal in the tournament opener before conceded a 0-1 goal loss against host Bangladesh in their second Group A match. \
Bhutan lost the first game by 0-2 goals against Bangladesh and eliminated from the last-four race suffering a 0-4 defeat against Nepal before the day’s loss.
Yellow Card: Rinchen Dorji (Bhutan); Muhammad Ali (Pakistan).
Team Place Match Win Loss GF GA GD Points
Pakistan 1 3 2 1 5 2 +3 6
Bangladesh 2 2 2 0 3 0 +3 6
Nepal 3 2 1 1 5 2+3 3
Bhutan 4 3 0 3 0 9 -9 0,UNB