KATHMANDU: Pakistan edged Bhutan 6-5 on the penalty shoot-out at the Dashrath Rangasala Stadium to qualify for the SAFF U19 Championship 2023 final after their nailbiting semi-final finished goalless at the end of extra time.
Pakistan’s goalkeeper Sahil Gul’s sensational save in the penalty shoot-out propelled the green shirts to clinch a narrow 6-5 victory over spirited Bhutan.
Pakistan will now lock horns with arch-rivals India in the final of the ongoing SAFF U19 Championship 2023 on Saturday at the same venue.
Pakistan booked their spot in the final four of the ongoing tournament by holding Maldives for a 1-1 stalemate.
The Green Shirts started their second SAFF U19 Championship 2023 fixture on a high as they dominated the possession for a notable period but failed to convert into a goal.
Pakistan’s error in conversion allowed the Maldives to capitalize on the situation and they successfully netted the opener in the 39th minute, courtesy of a brilliant outside-of-the-box finish.
Maldives went into the break with a 1-0 lead over Pakistan.
In the second half, Pakistan made numerous efforts but were denied the equalizer by the strong Maldives defence.
Pakistan, however, finally got luck in their favour when Shah Jahan netted the equalizer late into the game before pulling off an animated celebration.
Pakistan scripted a triumphant start to their SAFF U19 Championship 2023 campaign with a thrilling 1-0 victory over hosts Nepal.
Pakistan and Nepal went hard at each other in their SAFF U19 Championship fixture and showcased thrilling skills and tenacity before the former prevailed.
With a thrilling victory over Nepal, Pakistan ended a 12-year-long victory drought in an international match.
Pakistan’s U19 team last secured a victory on the international stage in 2011, when they defeated India’s U19 team.
The ongoing SAFF U19 Championship 2023 is being held at the Dashrath Stadium here from September 21 to 30.
For the unversed, this is the fifth edition of the SAFF U19 Championship, a highly competitive international football tournament for men’s under-19 national sides, organised by the SAFF.
India are the defending champions, having won their second title in 2022 by defeating Bangladesh in the final.
Pakistan Squad for SAFF U19 Championship 2023
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) and Zohair Gondal (Team Manager).