SAFF Championship: Saadullah sceptical of Pakistan’s participation [Express Tribune]

SAFF Championship: Saadullah sceptical of Pakistan’s participation [Express Tribune]

KARACHI: Despite being dubbed one of the midfielders to watch out for at the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship, Saadullah is sceptical of Pakistan’s chances of making their way to Kerala, India next month.

The hype around the tournament picked up as Pakistan and India were drawn to play one another in the opening match of Group A on December 23. And this week, the organisers shortlisted the best midfielders from eight participating teams, featuring the Pishin-based player Saadullah in the list.

Although excited for the event, the striker believes he can do nothing but keep his fingers crossed as the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) remains tied to a legal battle in the Lahore High Court (LHC).

“It’s going to be very disappointing for us if we don’t go. I can only hope for things to change somehow before December,” Saaudllah told The Express Tribune. “It’s encouraging that my name came up as one of the better players in the region, but my team still has to struggle; not knowing whether they’ll be able to play or not,” he said, adding that playing against India is always tense and emotional, but a win is more than rewarding.

Meanwhile, LHC-appointed administrator Asad Munir, who was put in charge of the PFF in August, says the government needs to decide whether the team should be sent to India or not.

“Kerala is a safer venue, but again it will be the government’s decision whether we can send the players or not,” said Munir. “I’m waiting on court orders for any further action, although I would like football activity to restart in the country soon.”

On the other hand, PFF secretary Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi blatantly said the team would not go as the local body had no funds available at the moment and that the LHC would have to come to a decision regarding the SAFF championship soon.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 22nd, 2015.