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Al Ain: Pakistan’s hope of a place in the 2016 AFC U-23 Championship effectively ended on Monday when the South Asians went down to a 2-0 defeat to Kuwait in their penultimate match in Group B of the qualifiers for next year’s tournament in Qatar.

Needing a win following a goalless draw with Kyrgyzstan in their opening match, Kuwait came flying out of the blocks and had taken a two-goal lead with less than ten minutes at the Al Qattara Stadium played courtesy of Faisal Al Azemi’s quickfire brace.

But the Qadsia SC striker’s third and eighth minute goals would be the only times that Pakistan keeper Saqib Hanif would be picking the ball out the back of his net as the South Asians recovered from the early setback and kept the Kuwaitis at bay for the remaining 82 minutes.

Pakistan, who had been scheduled to host the qualifiers back in March before the venue was moved to the UAE due to the security situation in Lahore following the troubles in the Youhanabad area of the city, will be looking to end their campaign on a positive note when they take on Kyrgyzstan as Group B, and the qualifying tournament, reaches its on Wednesday.

Ten group winners and five best second-placed teams from all groups will join hosts Qatar at the AFC U-23 Championship 2016, with January’s 16-team competition also serving as Asia’s qualifying tournament for the Olympic Games in Rio.