Pakistan U16 remain undefeated in all its matches in the tournament and carried away the SAFF cup with them which was thought to be ours to keep. The Pakistan repeated the group stage outcome against the fellow estranged nation. India was not welcomed by fans owing to public perspective to the nation as well as our defeat with them on semi finals. Pakistan continued its winning streak and set it to 5 as India were beaten 2-1 on the match. This clearly shows Pakistan is growing as a powerful footballing nation regardless to relatively less population to India and intrinsically cricketing nation.
Pakistan Football Federation or PFF have already confirmed that their senior side is going to play practice tour to England. Being a commonwealth nation as well as several Pakistani origin British players will serve as milestone for the national team.
Nepal could have witnessed the sell out crowd if they had a chance to play the final but not the least they won the third place for the country. ANFA might not have sufficient resources to take the teams abroad for trainings but the team has learnt a hard lesson on both occasions; semis and third place playoff.
In semis, the team gave up the lead in the dying minute of the match while we failed to capitalise majority of the chances not only on the first match with Bangladesh but also again with the same opponent with abundant 80 minutes to spare. Nepal need to learn how to adapt and change tactics and formations effectively as the game progresses. Even 10 men bangladesh came back from 1-0 down. We are playing very well but we need not let our guards down on the back. Nepalese team conceded only 2 goals in the whole tournament but could have been severely punished. The defenders were on sixes and sevens, luckily most of the time the opponents have missed the sitter.
The national team have earned the respect from all the supporters and especially Heman Gurung have been able to impress the opponent's coach. Now the junior sides have done their work, its now SAFF cup where the senior sides will vie for actual subcontinent supremacy and the mettle of the senior side and the label of top team in SAFF with respect to FIFA ranking will be tested.
Hope Graham Roberts will be ready for the tasks ahead.
Signing off from the SAFF U16 coverage in Nepalifootball.com
Columnist: Ram Gurung