Pakistan refuse to play Uzbekistan!

By Natasha Raheel

KARCHI: Determined not to follow the footsteps of the country’s cricket board, the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) turned down an offer to play Uzbekistan on a neutral venue, dismissing the option as an unprofessional one.

The PFF Secretary Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi revealed that Uzbekistan wanted to play in Dubai on February 29 and March 4 but Pakistan, refusing to bear the cost of the trip, rejected the proposal.

“It’s only fair if these countries send teams to Pakistan,” Lodhi toldThe Express Tribune. “If they can’t, then they should host the series — that’s how professional teams play. Since they don’t want to host, Uzbekistan suggested we come to Dubai, which is not feasible for us. It’s very expensive and in the same amount, we can host a series conveniently.

“Malaysia and Palestine came to Pakistan last year and we hosted the matches successfully so why can’t Uzbekistan.”

Meanwhile, Lodhi said that while Pakistan misses out on international exposure on this occasion, there were three other teams interested in playing friendly series during May.

“Maldives, Sri Lanka and Nepal have asked us about friendly matches and are willing to come to Pakistan. But they’re available in May since their players are busy in the ir domestic seasons right now.”

The PFF official said that Pakistan was capable of hosting international matches and added that central Asian countries were already sending their teams for the Asian Football Confederation under-14 festival in April.

Meanwhile, the seniors’ camp that was scheduled to start from today has been delayed for a week, since the team is not playing any friendly matches.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 15th, 2012.