9/10/2018 7:33:33 PM (GMT+3)

Indian football in a completely different level, says Pakistan captain

Indian football in a completely different level, says Pakistan captain

NEW DELHI: Pakistan captain Saddam Hossain said the SAFF Cup semifinal against India is a ‘special one’ and that he is looking forward to it.  

“We can’t just wait to play against India. We have every ounce of respect for our opponents but that won’t deter us from playing our natural game. We have shown our worth and I believe it’s going to be a heck of a contest and no one will prefer to give it a miss,” said Hossain.

The last time the two teams met in an official match, India beat Pakistan by a solitary goal in 2013 in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Hossain was part of an unofficial U-23 Friendly series in 2014 in Bangalore, where he was adjudged the ‘Most Valuable Player' of the series.

“We played well and the series ended 1-1. Those were two well-fought contests,” said Hossain. “India and Pakistan were running neck to neck but after that our federation faced a three-year FIFA suspension whereas India continued the good work. They’re in a completely different level now and we're struggling a lot.”

Centre-back Zesh Rehman, who became the first player from the SAFF region to have played in the EPL, is quite excited to face India.

“It’s always special to play India. I believe it’s same for the Indian players when they play against Pakistan,” said Rehman, who had stints at Fulham, QPR, Brighton & Hove Albion and Norwich City. “The match has a lot of history and huge emotions is involved. The rivalry pushes everyone to give that extra bit. This match means a lot to both the countries and the players.”

After the suspension, Pakistan got back into the international competition at the Asian Games in Jakarta last month.

This is going to be only the fifth occasion when Pakistan have reached the last four at the SAFF Cup. (Source: Lagardere Sports)