Rustic Pakistan makes long-awaited return to international football
After nearly three years out, the Pakistan men’s national football team returned to international football on Wednesday with a loss to fellow SAARC member Nepal.
And the time spent away showed in a rustic but resolute performance.
The friendly was held at the Dasharath Stadium in Tripureshwor.
Pakistan was dressed in their away kit of all white while Nepal was in traditional blue.
Pakistan, ranked 194 in the FIFA world rankings, sported a relatively young team against Nepal, including a whopping eight players who made their international debut on Wednesday.
Nepal sits around 20 positions above Pakistan at 175.
The first half was quite cagey, with few opportunities for either side, though Nepal did test the Pakistani keeper more in a dominant opening.
Late in the second half, Anjan Bista managed to race through the Pakistan defence in the 83rd minute to slot one past the keeper from very close range to give Nepal a decisive lead.
Nepal, though, hung on to the lead until the final whistle, even though Pakistan tried to force the issue.
The win did help Nepal improve its head-to-head record against Pakistan, which remains heavily tilted in favor of Pakistan, who have won seven matches against Nepal’s four.
In the end, though, the moment playing internationals for Pakistan was bigger than winning or losing the match.