ISLAMABAD - Pakistan women made a disappointing start in the 3rd South Asian Women's Football Championship, as they were defeated 2-1 by Sri Lanka in the inaugural match played here at Pakistan Sports Complex, Jinnah Satdium on Tuesday.

Sri Lankan team dominated the entire first half, as Pakistani girls looked not more than meager spectators. Pakistan could have conceded in the fifth minute of the first half, but goalkeeper Syeda Mahpara made splendid save to deny Lankans from taking early lead.

Lady luck kept on favoring Pakistan for first 32 minutes, but it finally ran out as a childish error by the defender, who back passed the ball to her own goalie, allowed Ishara Madushani to finally break the deadlock in the 33rd minute, and provided Sri Lanka 1-0 lead. The first half ended with Sri Lanka comfortably taking 1-0 lead.

Sri Lankans started the second half in a positive way and created one after another chance, but it was poor finishing, which denied them from scoring further goals in the early exchanges. Pakistan must thank their goalie Mahpara, who despite carrying fracture in her hand, played out of her skin and kept Pakistan in the game.

It was quite surprising Pakistan women head coach and skipper had made tall claims regarding national team’s preparations and described two-month long training camp more than enough for producing better results, but watching the team’s pathetic showing, it was very hard to believe that this team had trained so hard.

There were hardly any moves witnessed in the entire match, only some magic touches that too in short parts shown by the skipper Hajra, otherwise, it was a very poor performance by the host nation. A simple question rises in every one's mind, if Pakistani girls can't beat lowly-ranked Sri Lankans or produce satisfactory performance against such weak opposition, how could it be possible for them to even think about competing against the likes of Indian and Afghanistan?

Despite goalkeeping heroics of Mahpara, Pakistan finally conceded the much-anticipated second goal in the 81st minute, when another defensive blunder gifted the ball to Kumudumala, who scored the killer goal to all but end Pakistani hopes of getting something out of the match. Hajra did scored a consolation goal in the 89th minute to give score line some respectability.  Speaking after the match, head coach Tariq Lutfi termed his team’s performance as quite satisfactory and hoped the team would bounce back in the next match. “Rather than criticising the girls, one should understand they have hardly played at international level and they are shy and nervous, which is quite obvious as it is for the very first competitive match for the young girls. But they will settle down well in the matches to come.”

Sharing her views, team captain Hajra Khan said: “It was a decent performance considering the fact that majority of the girls are completely new at this level. We have assembled a relatively young squad, and it will take some time before they start producing more than desired results. We need crowd’s backing and I am sure we will bounce back in the next match.”

Only one match will be played today (Wednesday) in Group B between Nepal and Maldives. Indian team is expected to land in Pakistan in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, they will play their first match of the event tomorrow (Thursday).

Earlier, Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) minister Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada, who was the chief guest at the inaugural ceremony, declared the championship open in much disorganised ceremony. It was all because of IPC and PSB as they didn’t coordinate Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) rather put the entire burden on them. In fact, it was PSB's duty to ensure school and college students present at the venue. The IPC and PSB must realise it is not the PFF, but it is the pride of the country which is on stake. It is not the time to settle personal scores, rather they must cooperate with the PFF, which is striving hard to arrange this international event in the country which will help in reviving international sports here.

The PSB is not willing to provide medical facilities and medicines to the players, while not a single lady doctor is deputed for staying at the PSB medical wing. The PSB Director General should have ordered a female doctor must station at medical center in the late hours till the championship concludes. The PSB provides transportation to their blue-eyed federations, but they are not extending facility to the PFF. It makes no sense of accepting chairman organising committee portfolio, when the PSB DG doesn't have time to at least visit the site. It is about the future of international sports revival in Pakistan, and successful conduct of this championship can help revive international sports here. The IPC minister must take serious notice of the grave importance of the situation and issue directives to PSB DG to provide best available facilities to the PFF and visiting teams soon, after all, it is a national cause.