LAHORE  -  Pakistan lost the SAFF U-15 Championship final against Bangladesh 2-3 in the penalty shootout at ANFA Complex in Kathmandu, Nepal Saturday.

According to information made available here on Saturday, Bangladesh went ahead in the 25th minute from an own goal before Pakistan cancelled the lead from a penalty early in the second half to square the things at 1-1 before the final whistle. The stipulated time ended 1-1 with no extra-time, according to the rules of the tournament.

Bangladesh moved ahead in the 25th minute. Nazmul Ahmed Shakil orchestrated constant threats on the left flank and earned his side a throw-in, followed by a corner taken from where Pakistan defender Haseeb Ahmed Khan headed the ball into his own net. Pakistan equalised nine minutes into the second half after defender Helal Ahmed gave away a penalty. Mohib Ullah made no mistake from the spot. Bangladesh had a decent chance to move ahead again in the 74th minute but this time, Uchchash’s header from a Ebne Ahad Sakil’s corner was saved by the keeper.

Apart from Mehedi’s three saves, Towhidul Islam Hridoy, Mohammad Raja Ansari and Mohammad Rustom Islam converted their chances in the shootout while Mohammad Rajon Hawlader and Mohammad Rabiul Alam fluffed their lines.

From Pakistan, Junaid Ahmad Shah and Adnan Justin missed the first two penalties and later Mohib Ullah and Wasif successfully converted their penalties but unfortunately, Mudassar Nazar missed the last one, thus lost the final 2-3.

Nihat Jaman Uchchash of Bangladesh won the top scorer of the tournament award while besides winning the championship trophy, Bangladesh also earned the fair-play award. It was Bangladesh’s second title in five editions of the competition with the last one being the Saff U-16 Championship three years ago. Pakistan had also won the SAFF U-15 title in 2011.

Talking to The Nation, Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) President Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat appreciated the fighting spirit of the youngsters, saying although the team could not win the title yet they have won millions of hearts.

“It is a big achievement for the country and the young silver medalists as after a three-year turmoil, when the youngsters were provided opportunity under qualified coaching staff, they managed to reach the final of a major tournament, where they went down fighting against better team. Despite losing, the team definitely showed signs of a revival of football in the country as the team performed extraordinarily throughout the tournament.

“Coach Jose Beto Portella has done his job really well and succeeded in making it a spirited unit. Pakistan youth has shown the world that the country is blessed with a lot of promising talent and if provided with best facilities and opportunities, they can excel. Football has a very bright future in Pakistan and the PFF will groom these youngsters for future.”

The PFF chief also extended his heartiest felicitations to the winners Bangladesh. Meanwhile, India defeated hosts Nepal 1-0 to secure victory in the third-place play-off. A first half strike from Thlacheu Vanlalruatfela was enough to see India through.