AFC U23 Qualifiers likely to be postponed again [The News]

AFC U23 Qualifiers likely to be postponed again [The News]

KARACHI: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-23 Championship Qualifiers Group B are likely to be postponed once again, a well informed source informed the ‘The News’ on Friday.

“Kuwait has written to the AFC that they should revise the schedule of the slots because in that time-frame the examinations of schools and colleges will be held and Kuwait would not be able to feature if the event is held in May,” the source, who has contact with officials of the AFC, revealed.

The competitions, featuring Kuwait, Jordon, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan, are scheduled to be hosted by United Arab Emirates (UAE) from May 16 to 24 in Al-Ain.

Earlier, the group matches were penciled in at Lahore for March 23 to 31 but were postponed and later shifted to UAE following suicide attacks on churches in the Youhannabad area of Lahore on March 15.

The incident had also forced FIFA to shift the World Cup Qualifiers tie between Yemen and Pakistan from Lahore to Manama which was scheduled to be held at the Punjab Stadium on March 17.

The source said, if revised, the event could be delayed till August because of Ramadan which will begin from June 18.

“If the qualifiers are revised, it would be okay if they are placed in the first week of June, otherwise, no country would be able to feature in Ramadan,” the source added.

The doubts of rescheduling of the qualifiers have also put Pakistan coach Mohammad Shamlan in a predicament.

“It is not yet confirmed whether it will be rescheduled or not. We are waiting for the new development,” a Pakistan team source told this correspondent.

‘The News’ also learnt that Shamlan arrived in Lahore from his hometown in Bahrain the other day and has started watching the matches of the Challenge Cup, which is being held in Lahore.

The coach wants to scout a few Under-22 boys during the event who could be used in the qualifiers if its dates are revised again.

It has been learnt that Shamlan is also closely watching the Under-19 youngsters as the former Bahraini defender could recommend the better stuff of that age to Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) for putting them in their Under-19 national team for the AFC Under-19 Championship Qualifiers later this year.

Interestingly, if Under-23 event is taken to August, then in that case, Shamlan would not be able to supervise the lot because his two-year contract will expire on July 30 and he is not willing to continue his job after that. The other rounds of Under-23 Qualifiers have already been completed in March.