Pakistan squared the friendly football series against neighboring rivals India with a 2-0 win in Bangalore, last night. The two-match series ended in high spirits and a 1-1 draw between the two nations.
It was in the game’s 38th minute that Pakistani team captain Kaleemullah scored Pakistan’s first breakthrough goal, followed by Saddam Hussain, who stunned audiences in the second half with a sensational goal in the 89th minute.
Indian fans were gunning for a 2-0 series win, with India winning the first match 1-0. This was also the first football series between the two countries in almost a decade.
Sadly for the hosts, excitement quickly turned into disappointment when Indian team skipper Sunil Chhetri’s attempt at a goal was saved by goalkeeper Muzammil Husain. A minute later, Chhetri set-up debutante Haokop Thonhkosiem to score in the 37th minute, but again, the attempt was foiled by Husain (who was ‘in the zone’ last night).
A few minutes later, India again attempted a comeback but their efforts proved futile thanks to a strong Pakistani defense. During the last minutes of the game, Saddam Hussain poked the ball home after a solo run (ala Lionel Messi) into India’s penalty box, sealing the victory for the boys in green.
The series was deemed a huge success by Pakistani and Indian football fans alike. The spirit of sportsmanship between players of both teams reinforced how sport has the ability to transcend borders, and even aid in improving relations between the two countries.
Both teams are next set to compete in the Asian Games in South Korea, next month.