by Alam Zeb Safi
LAHORE: The NOCs issue has left Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalisation Committee unable to decide how to handle the country’s participation in a handful of events this year, including the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers.
“It’s really unfortunate that these issues have started obstructing national teams’ participation in international events,” an NC source told ‘The News’ on Wednesday.
“Look, our NOC got delayed when we were going to India for the SAFF Cup which created a big uncertainty. And till this time when our women team is supposed to tour Singapore we are making efforts to get the NOC. If we are unable to get it by tomorrow then we will disband the camp,” the source said.
“You cannot imagine how our women footballers feel at the moment. Most of the players in the women team have got international exposure. I am really disappointed by this situation. What will Singapore think if we don’t go there for two friendly games? How can we fulfill the criteria of applying for NOC six weeks ahead of the tour when we have got invitation on June 26. We sent documents for NOC on June 27,” the source said.
“Singapore has also asked us about the issue and we have told them that we are waiting for NOC,” the source was quick to add.
“If we get it by tomorrow we will try to make reservations again. It will further inflict a financial damage on our exchequer,” the source said.
Pakistan women team is supposed to face Singapore in two matches on July 15 and 18.
Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) has shown its inability to process the NOC in time because of “late submission” of the application for the purpose. However, NC is using different sources to get the NOC.
The NC source said that Pakistan’s various teams will feature in different events in the next few months and it will be difficult for NC to apply for NOC without finalising the respective teams.
“Look, our under-16 team will feature in the SAFF Under-16 Championship in September. Around 80 players have been shortlisted for the purpose. It will take time to squeeze the squad and finalise the best lot. I wonder how we can meet the six-week formula,” the source added.
“We don’t have even six weeks at our disposal for applying for NOC for the Pakistan Under-23 team which will feature in the AFC Under-23 Asian Cup 2024 Qualifiers to be held from early September. I think the government should look into these things. Footballers will suffer in the whole process and it will earn a bad name for us in the international circuit,” the source said.
Asked whether NC is in a position to apply for NOC in time for Pakistan’s participation in the 2026 World Cup Qualifiers to be held in October, the source said: “How is it possible when we are yet to finalise the squad. We are rebuilding the side and it will take time. Look, we have even a highly good foreign coach on our radar who we can hire for national men’s team, but who will give us guarantee that our team will get NOC for the World Cup Qualifiers. This is really a complex situation. We did not face any such issues in the past.”
In the World Cup Qualifiers, Pakistan will also host home leg of the two matches against teams which will be known on July 27. And this correspondent understands that NC is yet to decide where its home leg could be hosted.
It has been learnt that any foreign venue could be opted for if Pakistan’s venues which face different issues fail to meet the criteria of FIFA for hosting the qualifiers.