PFF trying to arrange Qatar tour ahead of SAFF Cup [The News]

PFF trying to arrange Qatar tour ahead of SAFF Cup [The News]

KARACHI: Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is desperately trying to arrange a tour of Qatar for its national senior team ahead of the SAFF Cup 2018 which will be held at the Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka from September 4-15.

“We are in talks with Qatar and hopefully we will be able to manage a tour for our senior side ahead of the SAFF Cup,” a PFF official told ‘The News’ on Sunday.“If we got two to three matches in Doha, it would be great for our side ahead of the seven-nation event,” the official was quick to add.

In the SAFF Cup, which Pakistan have never won, the Green-shirts have been clubbed in Group A with Nepal, Bhutan and former champions Bangladesh. Pakistan will begin their title quest on September 4 when they take on Nepal. They play against top seeds Bangladesh on September 6 and Bhutan on 8.

The record seven-time winners India have been bracketed in Group B with Maldives and Sri Lanka. The two leading sides from both groups will play the semi-finals.According to the Bangladesh media, all arrangements for the biennial event have been completed.

Pakistan will be playing in international circuit after a long gap of three years in which a legal dispute between the PFF and its rival group kept football activities suspended.Meanwhile, Pakistan under-23 and senior teams these days are on Bahrain’s tour in order to prepare for the 18th Asian Games and SAFF Cup.

The Asian Games are to be held from August 18 to September 2 in Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang. The team under the Brazilian coach Jose Antonio Nogueira has played a couple of matches against local clubs in Manama. They lost to Budaiya Club 2-1 before holding Al-Ahli 0-0.

The senior team was able to beat Al-Riffa Club the other day and was scheduled to face Sitra Club late Sunday night.In the 1-0 win over Al-Riffa FC, Pakistan’s Denmark-based striker Mohammad Ali scored the winner from the spot.

Pakistan squad will return in the wee hours of August 1.In the Asian Games, Pakistan have been clubbed in Group D with Japan, Vietnam and Nepal.In the 24-team event, the outfits have been placed in six groups with the leading two sides from each group and four best third-placed sides progressing to the knock-out stage.

A PFF official was happy with the growth of Pakistan teams, both senior and under-23. “The players are coming into fine shape,” the official said.

“Practice matches are important ahead of any international assignment. These help the coach to utilise the players at their right positions in the target assignment. Such tours are good for manufacturing a fighting side,” the official said.

In the Asian Games, an under-23 team, along with three senior players, will be fielded.Denmark-based goalkeeper Yousuf Butt is also in Bahrain. This correspondent learnt that Nogueira is testing all the three goalkeepers in the squad.

Published in The News, 30 July 2018