Peoples Stadium could host AFC U16 event

KARACHI: People’s Sports Complex, Karachi, is likely to host the Group E slots of the 2014 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-16 Championship Qualifiers to be held in September.

The AFC has allotted to Pakistan the Group E competitions involving Iran, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Sri Lanka.

If the venue was finalised it would be after eight long years that Karachi would be hosting any international football competition. In 2005 the port city hosted the SAFF Cup at the People’s Sports Complex.

A two-member delegation of the Sindh Football Association (SFA) on Friday met with Commissioner Karachi Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui and requested him for providing the complex for the purpose.

Shoaib, a former Sindh secretary Sports, assured the delegation that the venue would be provided for the purpose. ‘The News’ learnt that the commissioner told the SFA representatives that he would discuss the matter with the quarters concerned and invite them for another meeting. He hoped that the qualifiers would be conducted in the port city in a befitting manner. People’s Sports Complex has all the facilities required for holding international slots. But the officials concerned will have to prepare a good pitch at the venue.

Currently, the grass is not in a good condition but with a little effort it could be converted into a fine track.

SFA representative Shakoor Baloch is also likely to meet Karachi Port Trust (KPT) Sports Manager Shah Naeem Zafar to discuss with him the availability of the KPT Stadium.

KPT Stadium has a soft, grassy pitch but it lacks some other facilities which are needed for international matches.

A source in the SFA told this correspondent that the KPT Stadium would also be prepared for the purpose. The inspection team of the AFC will visit both the venues before the slots and the venue which impresses them will host the competitions.

Sources said that the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) wants to host the competitions in Karachi as the port city has not been able to host any continental event so far.

Lahore and Islamabad have hosted several continental events, including the AFC President’s Cup.

As many as 43 nations are taking part in the encounters which have been placed in ten groups.

The group winners and the best five runners-up will join hosts Thailand in the finals next year.

The AFC Under-16 Championship started back in 1985 and the finals in Bangkok will be the 16th edition. Kuwait, Uzbekistan, Nepal, Jordan, Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan will host the matches of the West Zone.

The sides finishing at the top four positions in the Asian level final round will qualify to represent the continent in the FIFA Under-17 World Cup to be held in Chile in 2015.

Group A: Kuwait, India, Tajikistan, Lebanon, Bhutan

Group B: Uzbekistan, Yemen, Palestine, Maldives

Group C: Iraq, Bahrain, Nepal, Turkmenistan

Group D: Syria, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Jordan

Group E: Iran, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Sri Lanka

Group F: Oman, Qatar, Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan

Group G: Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Macau

Group H: South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Guam, Brunei

Group I: China, North Korea, Myanmar, Northern Mariana Islands Group J: Japan, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines

by Alam Zeb Safi [The News]