Four-star Bilal takes Pakistan into SAFF U-16 Football semis

LAHORE: Inspired by striker M Bilal’s four-goal burst, Pakistan Under-16 showed a breath-taking and dominant performance in their second Group-A match by hammering Maldives Under-16 team 6-0 in the inaugural SAFF U-16 Championship being held in Kathmandu, Nepal.

This was Pakistan’s second successive win in the group after 1-0 win over India U-16 on Tuesday, that helped the young guns reach the semi-final stage by topping their Group-A with six points from the two games.According to the press release issued here by Pakistan Football Association (PFF) on Wednesday, Pakistan immediately put Maldives to the sword from the beginning at the Dasarath Rangsala Stadium when Bilal put his side ahead by converting a corner hit of Mansoor Khan.

The early goal, coupled with intense Pakistan pressure, put the Maldivians in complete disarray as they failed time and again to deal with the relentless Pakistan attacks. M Sohail, Sher Ali, M Zeeshan all came close to scoring but were unlucky to add to the total as it remained 1-0 in favour of Pakistan at half time.But in the second half, the flood gates were well and truly opened.

Pakistan went 2-0 up in the 56th minute with another goal from Bilal following a good cross from the impressive Sher Ali.The dynamic winger himself came close to scoring but was flagged offside in the 60th minute. However, Pakistan’s intense aggression and attacks paid dividends as Sher Ali scored a quick-fire brace in the 79th and 80th minute to knock the wind out of Maldives completely as Pakistan went 4-0 up with 10 minutes left.

Four minutes later, Bilal completed his hat-trick with a superb solo run past the bamboozled Maldives defence to make it 5-0.Bilal then added his fourth, and sixth overall for Pakistan, when his superb shot from 25 yards out beat Maldives goalie Shareef Ibrahim all ends up in stoppage time.

The Pakistan team well and truly hit Maldives for six, and all credit goes to the team as well as the astute coaching of Sajjad Mehmood and Hassan Baloch.Pakistan’s dominating performance in this 6-0 result has given the players and coaching staff the confidence to consider themselves as worthy favourites for the inaugural SAFF U-16 title. – Nation