KARACHI: Pakistan will take part in a four-nation tournament in Mauritius in June ahead of the SAFF Championship, the Pakistan Football Fed­e­r­ation Normalisation Com­­m­ittee said on Saturday.

The tournament, which also features Kenya and Djibouti alongside the hosts, will run from June 8 to 18 with the SAFF Championship in India to begin from June 21.

It represents a rare opportunity for Pakistan to test their mettle against African sides and provides valuable matches for the national team, which has suffered for years due to crisis in the PFF. The schedule for the matches will be announced later, the PFF NC said.

Kenya, like Pakistan, returned to the international fold last year after a nine-month suspension from FIFA. The PFF was banned for 15 months until June last year.

Since making their return, Pakistan have lost both friendly matches they’ve played. They lost 1-0 to Nepal in November last year before losing by the same scoreline to the Maldives in March.

The PFF NC has been keen on providing the national team with as many matches this year with Pakistan also due to enter the first round of qualifiers for the 2026 FIFA World Cup in October.

At the SAFF Champ­ionship, Pakistan have been drawn in Group ‘A’ alongside India, Nepal and Kuwait. They play India in their first match on the tournament’s opening day.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2023

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