KARACHI: Delayed from the date initially announced, the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Cup will kick off from January 28 with the tournament to be held in two stages.

The 24-team event will bring an end to almost eight months of football inaction with severe infighting in the PFF bringing a halt to the game in the country with FIFA and the Lahore High Court (LHC) having both intervened.

While FIFA has backed incumbent president Faisal Saleh Hayat, the LHC has appointed an administrator retired Justice Asad Munir to run the PFF affairs after it split into two factions in the lead-up to its presidential elections in June.

Munir, who is holding the event, had earlier announced a tentative start date of January 15 but the event will now begin 13 days later than initially planned.

“Something is better than nothing,” Ayaz Butt, the manager of Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) — one of eight teams who go into the final round which begins from February 9, told Dawn on Wednesday. “It’s a much-needed football activity.”

Apart from KRL, Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force (PAF), Wapda, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), Karachi Port Trust (KPT) and Pakistan Navy will be in the 16-team final round in which teams will be bracketed into four groups.

The other eight teams will come from the first round which sees 16 teams divided into four groups.

Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), Ashraf Sugar Mills (ASM), Pakistan Steel and Sindh Social Welfare Trust (SSWT) are in Group I while Group II has Gwadar Port Authority (GPA), Sindh Government Press (SGP), Pakistan Police and Karachi United FC.

Both those groups will be played in Karachi with matches of the other two to be held in Lahore.

Group III has Pakistan Railways, Saif Textiles, Falcon Company and Insaf Afghan Goods Trading Company (IAGTC) with Higher Education Commission (HEC), Pakistan Television (PTV), Bhatti United and Hazara Coal Company (HCC) in Group IV.

Pakistan Premier Football League (PPFL) champions K-Electric, though, are not competing in the event due to a scheduling clash, Dawn has learnt.

They face Bahrain’s Al Hidd in their AFC Cup playoff on February 9.

However, they might be ousted from the playoff for Asia’s second-tier club competition with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) investigating lack of documentation for two players who played in the preceding qualifying playoff.

Published in Dawn, January 14th, 2016

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