by Natasha Raheel
KARACHI: Top clubs confirmed their participation in the All-Pakistan Football Challenge Cup that will begin in Peshawar’s Qayyum Stadium on October 1.
The event is being organised by the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Football Association (KPFA), with Pakistan Premier Football League (PFFL) champions K-Electric, four-time PPFL champions KRL, Wapda, PAF and PIA competing among 12 teams for the trophy and Rs100,000 in prize money.
The event will be played on league basis with three teams in four groups. The final will be played on October 19, according to the KPFA Secretary Basit Kamal.
The tournament is being viewed as a good sign in the current circumstances of football in the country, as players and departments await competitive action in the absence of the PPFL and other domestic events that are usually organised by the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF).
The KPFA is funding the event on its own, while the PFF is still a controversial entity with two rival factions — Makhdoom Faisal Saleh Hayat’s group is being backed by FIFA while the Lahore High Court has appointed PFF administrator Asad Munir at the federation’s headquarters.
Munir has approved of the All-Pakistan Challenge Cup.
“It is a good sign that the departments are sending their teams to Peshawar,” KRL coach Sajjad Mehmood told The Express Tribune. “We are trying to play any local tournament that we can. We haven’t had PPFL, and then the PFF Challenge Cup didn’t take place either, so we’re deprived of football events that matter.”
KRL will also be playing in Multan at a separate All-Pakistan tournament that will begin this week.
Meanwhile, PAF coach Arshad Khan said the event will help the departments keep their players, or else the footballers will suffer the agony of losing their jobs.
“Keeping their jobs is the players’ top priority, so if they don’t have any tournaments to play, the departments wouldn’t keep them,” said Arshad. “It’s good that this tournament is taking place, but ultimately none of it would matter if the PFF issue isn’t settled.”