Taking part in SAFF Cup crucial: Essa [Express Tribune]

Taking part in SAFF Cup crucial: Essa [Express Tribune]

by Natasha Raheel [Express Tribune]

KARACHI: K-Electric midfielder and former national captain Essa Khan believes the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) will need to regroup quickly after FIFA’s decision this week in order to compete at the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Cup in December.

Essa emphasised that the SAFF Cup is the most important event for Pakistan this year as the country has never won the regional title. “The SAFF Cup is like our World Cup,” Essa told The Express Tribune. “We shouldn’t miss this tournament at any cost. Pakistan should make their mark in the region before aiming higher.”

India is hosting the SAFF championship this year in Kerala, where Pakistan are pitted in Group A against the hosts along with Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Essa feels that a timely decision will help resume football activities in Pakistan. So far, Pakistan have missed SAFF U16 Boys Championship and Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U16 and U19 championship fixtures.

“If FIFA decides in [PFF President] Faisal Saleh Hayat’s favour, then it is great news for Pakistan,” said Essa, referring to the decision to be taken by FIFA’s associations committee regarding the ongoing power tussle between the two rival factions of the PFF. “Hayat has done more work compared to his predecessors, but more importantly, we have faith in FIFA. We will still have two months to prepare a good team.”

Speculations that the committee has decided in Hayat’s favour are rife; however, according to a spokesperson, FIFA’s executive committee is yet to confirm any developments.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 23rd, 2015.