SAFF Cup: Bangladesh, Pakistan play out goalless draw


New Delhi : Traditional rivals Pakistan and Bangladesh played out a goalless draw in the opening match of the SAFF Cup football tournament at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium here Friday.

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The stadium, the showpiece venue of the Commonwealth Games, wore a deserted look for the tournament, which was inaugurated by sports minister Ajay Maken.

Pakistan, who lost to Bangladesh in both the legs of the World Cup qualifiers, made an impressive start by controlling the most of the first half but failed to convert the several chances that came their way.

Pakistan came close to open the scoring in the 24th minute but Faisal Iqbal missed an open net after being set-up by a cross from Jadeed Pathan Khan from the right.

Bangladesh, highest ranked side in the tournament, found their bearings in the second half but Pakistan were still dominating proceedings in the midfield.

At the start of the second half, Bangladesh came close but Ariful Islam’s header off a corner hit the horizontal and striker Jahid Hussain Ameli tried his best to clear the rebound but could not find the target despite three attempts.

Bangladesh’s Macedonian coach Nikola Ilievski said Pakistan were motivated after their loss in the World Cup qualifiers.

“We have a young team and the boys played well. Today Pakistan were motivated after their loss to Bangladesh in the World Cup. The first match is always tough and I am happy with the draw,” he said.

Pakistan coach Zavisa Milosavljevich lamented the lack of a finisher in the team.

“It was a difficult match for us. Pakistan created several chances but we couldn’t finish them off. But a draw against the higher ranked Bangladesh was good,” he said.