by Alam Zeb Safi
LAHORE: Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) has assured that the floodlights of the required standard will be installed at the Jinnah Stadium, Islamabad, before February end and the federal capital will host Jordan in the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers second round show on March 21.
“Yes, we have already floated tender and the floodlights will be installed before February end and the stadium will be ready to host Jordan on March 21 as the match will be held under lights,” the PSB Director General Shoaib Khoso told ‘The News’.
Jinnah Stadium, Islamabad, has emerged as a potential venue for hosting international matches after successfully hosting the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers games in recent months.
The country hosted both Cambodia on October 17 and Tajikistan on November 21. And the most positive thing was that a thick crowd was witnessed in those shows. It created a hope that football was going to pull bigger crowd than cricket.
Pakistan beat Cambodia in Islamabad 1-0 on October 17 and created history. It is the first time that the nation has qualified for the second round of the World Cup Qualifiers.
“You know it was a fantastic crowd and we will make every effort to make the venue ready for the night matches,” Khoso said.
As in March there will be Ramadan it will be important to hold the show between Pakistan and Jordan in the night. And on June 6 Pakistan will host Saudi Arabia and again that show will be held under floodlights.
Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalisation Committee senior member Shahid Khokhar lauded the PSB’s support during the previous two home matches against Cambodia and Tajikistan. “Yes, we are very much thankful to the PSB for the outright support it extended to us for conducting the previous two games in Islamabad,” Shahid told The News.
“As we plan to hold the coming two matches at night we have requested the PSB for installation of the required standard floodlights and for meeting some other necessary requirements. And we are very much optimistic that the Board will do its best and ensure Pakistan successfully hosts the remaining two matches in Islamabad,” Shahid said.
In Group G of the Qualifiers, Pakistan have lost both their initial games. The Green-shirts went 4-0 down to strong Saudi Arabia in their opener at the Al-Fateh Club Stadium in Al-Ahsa in the rain-marred game on November 16. And then Pakistan lost to Tajikistan 6-1 in Islamabad on November 16.
After hosting Jordan on March 21 in Islamabad Pakistan will play against the same oppositions in their away show on March 26.
After hosting Saudi Arabia on June 6 in Islamabad Pakistan will then move to Tajikistan for their last group game which will be conducted on June 11. Pakistan are at the last fourth position in their group with no victory so far. Saudi Arabia lead the group with six points.