by Abdul Mohi Shah
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) could go ahead with its plan of organising World Cup qualifying football match against Cambodia on October 17 here at the Jinnah Stadium.
A delegation of the PFF’s Normalization Committee comprising Shahid Khokhar and national team head coach Shahzad Anwar along with Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) Director (federations) Faizan Inayet visited the Jinnah Stadium Thursday to inspect the facilities for second leg of the match planned at the venue.
“We have pointed out some adjustments that include availability of standard lights, digital scoreboard and screen that are a must for hosting such international matches. We have communicated to the PSB officials that these should be installed or upgraded to make the venue at par with the international standard,” Shahid Khokhar, one of the NC members, told The News.
He had all praise for the available surface at the Jinnah Stadium. “The turf at the Jinnah Stadium gives an excellent look. Hopefully by the time the game kicks off at the stadium, the surfaces will be even better.”
Later, the NC delegation met PSB Director General Shoaib Khoso who offered all possible support to the NC to host the event in a befitting manner. “We are thankful to the PSB for offering every kind of assistance for the international match to be held in Pakistan following eight years of agonising wait.
We want international matches here in Pakistan but for that you require permission from the FIFA that has the ultimate authority,” Khokhar said. He added that it all depends on approval by the FIFA. FIFA is expected to send a delegation to check facilities at the venue, most probably at the start of next month.
“We will request the FIFA to send an inspection delegation at the earliest so that we could be in a position to check as to what more needs to be done to host the international qualifying match in the best possible way,” Khokhar said.
The PFF has already selected Saudi Arabia as the backup country to host the match against Cambodia. “If at all FIFA decides against holding the match at the Jinnah Stadium, Saudi Arabia will be the backup country to host the international. I hope that FIFA will go ahead with the match at the Jinnah Stadium.” Pakistan and Cambodia will lock their horns in first leg of the match in Cambodia on October 12 followed by the return leg on October 17 in Islamabad.