Pakistan’s charter flight to Tajikistan also cancelled

Pakistan’s charter flight to Tajikistan also cancelled

PFF Press Release – June 10, 2024

Haroon Malik, Chairman of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalization Committee, stated that concerted efforts have been made to ensure the Pakistan football team reaches Dushanbe, Tajikistan, for their away match in the FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifiers.

Following the recent match between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, eleven members of the Pakistan football team, including seven players and four officials, have already arrived in Dushanbe. However, according to FIFA rules and regulations, the team requires an additional nine players and two officials to be present at the venue to participate in the match.

Malik emphasized the critical nature of the situation, noting that failure to reach Dushanbe in a timely manner could invoke specific AFC and FIFA rules, which would determine the outcome.

Speaking on the matter, Malik expressed his concerns, saying, “The fact that the national team has not yet departed for Dushanbe is extremely distressing.” He assured that all possible resources are being utilized to address the issue and ensure the team’s arrival in Tajikistan.

“We are in constant communication with the Tajikistan football authorities and FIFA officials to keep them fully informed of the situation,” Malik said. He also mentioned that the PFF is coordinating with government officials at the highest levels. “The Prime Minister’s Office is making serious efforts to resolve the issue,” Malik added.

Dawn adds:

LAHORE: A significant portion of the Pakistan football team, comprising nine players and two officials, finds themselves in a limbo as they await their departure for Dushanbe, Tajikistan, where they are slated to engage in the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifier against the host nation on Tuesday.

The journey hit an unexpected snag when a technical glitch grounded the airline initially designated to transport the nine players and two officials from Faisalabad to Dushanbe on June 8. While seven players and two officials successfully reached Dushanbe via a scheduled flight from Islamabad, the shortage of available seats compelled the Normalisation Committee of the Pakistan Football Federation to secure additional spots on a Dubai-based carrier departing from Faisalabad. However, misfortune struck yet again as this flight was cancelled due to a bird strike, leaving the contingent stranded once more.

In a subsequent attempt, the NC endeavored to secure a chartered flight from the national carrier, only to encounter yet another setback as technical issues thwarted their plans once more, depriving the players of their sole available opportunity to reach Dushanbe.

Despite the setbacks, a PFF official expressed optimism regarding the team’s timely arrival in Dushanbe ahead of the impending match.

“We have apprised the Prime Minister’s Office of the situation, and they are earnestly working towards securing an alternative flight for the squad to reach Dushanbe,” a PFF official said.

With Dushanbe merely a two-hour flight away from Lahore, hopes remain high that the remaining squad will arrive well in advance of kick-off time, ensuring their participation in the crucial encounter.

Published in Dawn, June 11th, 2024

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