Little hype as Pak, Palestine teams arrive in Karachi

By Alam Zeb Safi [The News]

KARACHI: Palestine and Pakistan football teams were received here at the Jinnah International Airport on Wednesday without any media hype, a discouraging factor for the sport in the country.

Besides this correspondent, only three other reporters of television channels were present at the airport at the arrival of the teams which came on the same flight from Lahore.

Fool-proof security arrangements were made at the airport with a heavy contingent of police and commandoes guarding the whole arrival lounge and outside area.

The chairman of the Sindh Football Association (SFA) Ghulam Abbas Baloch, the secretary of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) Qamar Yar Khan, Vice-President of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Khadim Ali Shah and the secretary of the Pakistan Football Referees Association (PFRA) Ahmad Ali and others received the teams.

A few Palestinian students were also waiting anxiously to greet their team.

Both the teams will meet in their second game of the four-match series here at the Peoples Sports Complex on Friday. On Tuesday night, Palestine defeated Pakistan 2-1 at the Punjab Stadium in Lahore.

Talking to reporters, Palestine head coach Bezaz Mousa said that his team would try to perform even better in the next game against Pakistan.

“Although we beat Pakistan 2-1 in the first match but we shall try to further improve our performance in the next tie,” Bezaz said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan head coach Tariq Lutfi has said that he is trying to get the team closer to the standard of their opponents.

“It takes time for a young side to grow,” Lutfi said.

“Though our young Olympic side is playing against the national team of Palestine, everyone will see where we stand after the next match,” Lutfi said.

Ex-Federal Sports Minister Aijaz Jakhrani termed the series between the two countries a healthy sign for the revival of international sports in the country.

Karachi will host an international match after a lapse of five years as the city had hosted its last game on March 1, 2006, when Pakistan faced UAE in the 14th Asian Cup qualifiers.