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Pakistan get lucky at SAFF Cup draw

Published Sep 16, 2015 02:01pm

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Pakistan can count themselves fortunate for being drawn in the easier group of the two. — AFP/File
Pakistan can count themselves fortunate for being drawn in the easier group of the two. — AFP/File

KARACHI: Pakistan got a lucky draw at the SAFF Suzuki Cup draw in New Delhi on Wednesday when they were pitted against arch-rivals and hosts India, Nepal and Sri Lanka in Group ‘A’ of South Asia’s marquee football tournament.

The tournament is being held in the Indian state of Kerala from December 23-January 3 and Pakistan face arch-rivals India in a high-profile game on the opening day at the Trivandrum Stadium.

The Shaheens then face Nepal on December 25th before rounding off their Group ‘A’ campaign against Sri Lanka two days later and the national team can count themselves fortunate for being drawn in the easier group of the two.

Group ‘B’ has defending champions Afghanistan, Maldives, Bhutan and Bangladesh – with all four teams playing in the second round of 2018 World Cup qualifying where they are rubbing their shoulders with the giants of Asian football.

Those meetings with the likes of Japan, Australia, Qatar and China have resulted in heavy defeats for the South Asian minnows but nevertheless the experience of playing against the big boys is slowly but surely contributing to improvement of the teams.

Pakistan, looking to advance from the group stage of the SAFF Cup for the first time since 2005, fell at the first round of qualifying for the FIFA showpiece in Russia and hence are missing out on the experience of playing against the continent’s heavyweights after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) revamped the World Cup qualifying procedure.

Nepal and Sri Lanka also crashed out at the first hurdle though the former will have a chance for revenge when they face India, who made it to the second round of World Cup qualifying at their expense.

Pakistan and India also met in their opening game of the last edition in Nepal – the Indians winning it 1-0 – but it remains to be seen how the national team prepares for the biggest tournament it plays at least until 2017.

The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has split into two factions after severe infighting over the last several months with allegations of corruption, mismanagement and incompetency coming to the fore.

World’s football governing body FIFA will discuss the Pakistan issue at its Associations Committee meeting on Sept 21.

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Comments (4) Closed



Adnan Fayyaz Sep 16, 2015 03:55pm

First win some games, and then claim to be in a lucky group

M.Saeed Sep 16, 2015 05:16pm

Shaheens are hungry and need a sweet veg-fed appetizer to start their feast.

Zak Sep 16, 2015 11:10pm

"The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has split into two factions after severe infighting over the last several months with allegations of corruption, mismanagement and incompetency coming to the fore."

And then you expect the players to win. Why is a management position sought after to make corrupt money and nothing to do with sports.

Hashim Sep 17, 2015 06:37am

Its such a shame that football has been neglected in Pakistan. There is so much talent, as I have myself with a few clubs, but it seems that the PFF doe snot really go out and watch players in these clubs. They are just looking at the League, which comprises of departments. PFF should appoint scouts all over the country to identify and nurture the budding talent in local clubs all over the country. That would also help in building better infrastructure for training. Maybe then the plenipotentiaries wont need malpractice and corruption to make money.