PFF explore alternates to avoid neutral venue for Saudi match [Geo Super]

PFF explore alternates to avoid neutral venue for Saudi match [Geo Super]

by Faizan Lakhani

KARACHI: In an attempt to avoid taking Pakistan’s FIFA World Cup qualifier home match against regional giants Saudi Arabia to a neutral venue, the Pakistan Football Federation’s Normalisation Committee has discussed the option of an early kick-off.

The PFF-NC had earlier announced that the match would start at 8:30pm as PSB had installed new lights at the Jinnah Stadium, Islamabad. However, an independent inspection of the lighting has revealed that there are inconsistent lux at different spots on the field.

The report also indicated low lux around both the goalposts.

Though the PSB has promised to install four light towers around the goalposts, the PFF has also started working on alternate options.

One option, according to sources, is to start at 5pm.

The source said that PFF NC officials have discussed this idea and there is a likelihood that if light problems aren’t solved then the Pakistan and Saudi Arabia game in FIFA World Cup qualifier will start at 5:00pm.

The source mentioned that PFF is of the view that a 5pm start will allow the game to finish by 7pm as the sunset time on June 6 is forecasted to be at 7:21pm.

The last two home games against Jordan and Tajikistan got kicked off at 2pm. However, the scorching heat will not allow a 2pm kick-off.

Pakistan will play matches against Saudi Arabia and Tajikistan on June 6 and 11, respectively, in the second round of the qualifiers. The match against Saudi Arabia will be held at Jinnah Stadium in Islamabad, whereas the fixture against Tajikistan will take place at the Dushanbe Central Stadium.

Pakistan are at the bottom of Group G as they have lost all their four matches they have played so far. Pakistan began their journey with a 4-0 defeat at the hands of Saudi Arabia in Al-Ahsa in November followed by a 6-1 loss at the hands of Tajikistan at Islamabad in the same month.

Jordan then defeated Pakistan 3-0 in Islamabad in a game held in Ramadan with the Shaheens also losing the reverse fixture 7-0 at the Amman International Stadium.

Published in Geo Super, 22 May 2024

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