ISLAMABAD: Following objections raised by the Pakistan Football Federation Norma­lisation Committee over the lighting at the Jinnah Stadium for Pakistan’s 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia next month, the Pakistan Sports Board has insisted that everything will be fixed for the match to go on as scheduled.

Pakistan are due to host the Saudis on June 6 but the PFF NC wrote to the PSB stating that it will be forced to shift the match to a different venue if the floodlights aren’t according to FIFA standards.

A senior PSB official, however, told Dawn on Monday that a solution has been found.

“The idea is to install four floodlights on both sides of the two goal posts in the next few days,” the official stated, adding that the arrangements will be in accordance with the FIFA standards.

A team of officials from the PFF NC visited the Jinnah Stadium earlier this month alongside a delegation from the Saudi Arabian Football Federation and its inspection found that the floodlights weren’t up to international standard. It urged the PSB to propose remedial measures and complete lighting arrangements as per standards so that it could share the details with FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation accordingly.

“Shifting the match away from Pakistan would be highly shameful for us,” the PSB official said. “It will be a disgrace for the country and if that happens, strict action will be taken against the responsible officials of the PSB.

“I think there is adequate time to sort this out and

therefore there should be no discussion at this point about shifting the match away from Pakistan. We will make sure we make the arrangements in time and then the PFF NC can also carry a special inspection from experts from a third party to determine the quality of the lighting.“

The PFF had earlier threatened to shift another qualifier against Jordan away from the country before it decided to hold it in the day time during the month of Ramazan.

Pakistan created history by advancing to the second round of World Cup qualifying but they are yet to find their feet, losing all their four matches so far and are out of contention for the third qualifying round.

The national team, under head coach Stephen Constantine, began their training camp on Monday for their final Group ‘G’ matches against Saudi Arabia, on June 6, and Tajikistan, on June 11.

For now only the local-based players have joined the camp with the foreign-based players to link up with the team later on.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2024

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