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CIKARANG: Pakistan goalkeeper Saqib Hanif punches the ball during the Asian Games Group ‘D’ match against Vietnam at the Wibawa Mukti Stadium on Tuesday.—AFP
CIKARANG: Pakistan goalkeeper Saqib Hanif punches the ball during the Asian Games Group ‘D’ match against Vietnam at the Wibawa Mukti Stadium on Tuesday.—AFP

CIKARANG: The Pakistan football team returned to the international arena with a 3-0 loss against Vietnam in their Asian Games Group ‘D’ game at the Wibara Mukti Stadium on Tuesday.

Vietnam looked very convincing as they attacked from the start. Within the first 10 minutes, Nguyen van Quyet had made three attempts but his efforts were either off the mark or saved by Pakistan goalkeeper Saqib Hanif.

The experience of having played in the AFC U23 Championship in China last January — where they finished second — proved to be advantageous for Vietnam as they moved with confidence.

Nguyen Quang Hai opened the scoring in the 21st minute before van Quyet etched his name on the scoresheet four minutes before the break.

Hai slotted the ball through Pakistan goalkeeper Saqib Hanif’s legs following a quick exchange of passes with Phuong.

While Quyet, after receiving a pass on the edge of the box from wide on the right-wing, shot it powerfully past a diving Hanif.

In the 68th minute, Vietnam were awarded a penalty kick after Pakistan’s Mehdi Hassan was hauled up for rough play against Nguyen Cong Phuong, who duly stepped up to take the spot kick which was saved by Saqib.

The Samurai Blue, gold medallists in 2010, were clearly the dominant side and went ahead with their next look at goal as overlapping right-back Yoichi Naganuma evaded a tackle before sending the ball across the face of goal to find Kaoru Mitoma, who slotted home unchallenged from 12 yards in the seventh minute.

Cong Phuong, however, redeemed himself in the 72nd minute to confirm Vietnam the three points, coolly placing the ball past the Pakistan goalkeeper after fending off one of the defenders.

BANDUNG: Ahmed Algheilani (C) of the UAE battles for the ball with Syria’s Jihad Busmar (L) during their Group ‘C’ match at the Si Jalak Harupat Stadium on Tuesday.—AP
BANDUNG: Ahmed Algheilani (C) of the UAE battles for the ball with Syria’s Jihad Busmar (L) during their Group ‘C’ match at the Si Jalak Harupat Stadium on Tuesday.—AP

In the other Group ‘D’ match Japan started aggressively and had their first look at goal as early as the second minute through Kouta Watanabe, whose shot was blocked and a minute later, Nepal goalkeeper Kiran Kumar Limbu denied Kaoru Mitoma.

Buoyed by the goal, Japan continued to press but a combination of poor finishing and good goalkeeping by Limbu meant the score remained 1-0 at the break.

Next up, Vietnam face Nepal while Pakistan take on Japan on Thursday.—Agencies

The second half saw more of the same with Japan pressing and Nepal forced to defend but despite their chances, there was only frustration for Hajime Moriyasu’s team as they had to be satisfied with just a 1-0 win.

In other matches on Tuesday, Uzbekistan defeated Bangladesh 3-0 while Thailand scored a late equaliser to hold Qatar 1-1 in Group ‘B’, China beat Timor-Leste 6-0 and Syria defeated the United Arab Emirates 1-0 in Group ‘C’.

Published in Dawn, August 15th, 2018