England may host India, Pakistan, Bangladesh series

KARACHI: The football teams of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh will be playing each other in England at a time when the ICC Champions Trophy would also be in progress there.

India-based Celebrity Management Group (CMG) is going to bring the three football teams of the South Asia together in England in June for a three-match series. As per proposed schedule, India will face Bangladesh on June 1 at the Fulham FC’s ground while Pakistan will meet arch-rivals India on June 4 at the same venue and Bangladesh on June 8 for which the venue is yet to be decided.

All the three nations, which will be preparing for the SAFF Cup in Nepal to be held in September-October, have shown their willingness to tour England for the triangular series.

“Yes, all the three countries have shown their willingness which is a positive sign,” Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Marketing Consultant Sardar Naveed Haider Khan told ‘The News’ on Friday.

But the PFF is waiting for the agreement to be sent by the company.

“We are waiting for the contract to be sent by the company. And after carefully examining the conditions, we will then go to sign it and once it is finalized we will make it public,” said Naveed.

“Because of bitter experiences in the past, we are very careful and are not going to rush.

“The time is short and they should have sent the agreement by now as the visa process will also take some time,” said Naved.

He said it would be a good opportunity for Pakistani players to showcase their talent on English soil, having a rich football history.

“I think, it’s a good opportunity for the Pakistan team as the players will get exposure and the talented boys may get a chance to enter into an agreement with any club there,” he pointed out.

In 2011 an England-based company had planned a bilateral football series between Pakistan and India in England but they had to cancel it at the eleventh hour after they failed to get the required sponsorships.

But the company involved this time has good credibility as it is one of the largest sports management groups in India and had successfully brought the Argentine football team to India in 2011 besides bringing in former Argentine’s captain Diego Maradona last year. The company also has the support of Fulham FC.

The PFF plans to assemble junior players in Lahore latter this month for a ten-day training camp in Lahore under Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic.

However, if the England tour was made possible then there is every chance that the senior team would start its preparation for it in the middle of May.

Foreign-based footballers will also be the part of the England tour. The Greenshirts had last toured England in March 2001 under the English coach John Layton for the preparations of the 2002 World Cup qualifiers.

After the series in England, India also plan to play a couple of more matches in Europe.

by Alam Zeb Safi [The News]