Karachi celebrates the PSL final

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A view of the National Stadium after refurbishment. The stadium was deserted for nine years due to the law and order situation in the city. (Photo Arab News/M.F. Sabir)
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Pole banners with photos of national and international cricket stars hang with poles at Shahrah-e-Faisal, a thoroughfare which connects the airport with downtown Karachi. (Photo Arab News/ M.F. Sabir)
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The front of the National Stadium. (Photo Arab News/M.F. Sabir)
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Huge portraits of international cricket stars displayed at Karachi thoroughfares. (Photo Arab News/M.F.Sabir)
Updated 21 March 2018
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Karachi celebrates the PSL final

KARACHI: All thoroughfares leading to the National Stadium have been decorated with portraits of cricket stars and national flags, creating a cricket festival environment in the Pakistani seaside city of Karachi.
Karachi, which will host international cricket for the first time in more than nine years, has a new colorful look due to preparations for the PSL final.
In March, Chief Minister of Sindh Syed Murad Ali Shah approved 210 million Pakistani rupees ($1.83 million) for the beautification of the city, after which departments of provincial and local governments collaborated to clean up and beautify the city.
The National Stadium has been handed over to Pakistan’s paramilitary Rangers for the tightened security arrangements, which the authorities have described as “security with festivity.”
Shuttles will run between the stadium and parking areas to transport the cricket fans.
Fans not able to make it to the stadium will be watching the PSL final on big screens throughout the city.

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Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

Updated 21 March 2019
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Bert Van Marwijk only has one thing on his mind: getting the UAE to the 2022 World Cup

  • Former Saudi Arabia coach wants to guide the Whites to their first World Cup since 1990.
  • "If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here," Dutchman says of his new job.

LONDON: Bert van Marwijk has told the UAE he only has one thing on his mind: Getting the side to the 2022 World Cup. 

The former Saudi Arabia boss was unveiled as the new coach of the Whites before watching his new team beat his former team 2-1 in a friendly in Dubai (see right). While he was in the stand rather than the dugout — interim boss Saleem Abdelrahman took charge — he would have liked what he saw as he set himself the challenge of leading the UAE to their first showpiece since 1990. 

“I’m here for only one thing, and that’s to qualify for the World Cup,” the Dutchman said.  

“It takes a long time and the first thing we have to deal with is the first qualification round. That’s why I’m here.”

Van Marwijk was celebrated after he led the Green Falcons to last year's World Cup before calling it quits. (AFP) 

Van Marwijk guided Saudi Arabia to last year’s World Cup — the Green Falcons’ first appearance at the showpiece for 12 years — during a two-year stint which ended in September 2017.

That was one of the key reasons the UAE fought hard for the 66-year-old and while it is never easy getting through Asian qualifying — 46 teams going for just four direct slots at Qatar 2022 — the Dutchman claimed his experience, combined with his knowledge of the UAE, will stand him in good stead. 

“The Saudis and the UAE are about the same level. With the Saudis we qualified for Russia, so we will do really everything to go to Qatar in 2022,” Van Marwijk said. 

While he is fondly remembered in the Kingdom — only a contractual dispute regarding backroom staff meant he did not stay on as Green Falcons coach for the Russia tournament — it is his time as the Netherlands coach that really stands out on his managerial resume. Van Marwijk coached the Oranje to within minutes of the World Cup trophy, with only an Andres Iniesta extra-time winner preventing him from tasting ultimate glory against Spain in 2010. 

So why did he return to the Gulf for another crack at World Cup qualification in a tough, crowded race? 

“One of the reasons is the feeling. I have to have the right feeling when I sign a contract,” Van Marwijk said. “We analyzed the UAE, we played four times against each other with Saudi, so I can see the potential.

“I have had the experience to go to the World Cup twice. The first time we were second in the world, the second time was with Australia (which he coached last summer) and we were a little bit unlucky — we played very well. 

“So to go to the World Cup for the third time is the goal.”

Van Marwijk is all too aware his task will be difficult. The “Golden Generation” of Emirati footballers, spearheaded by Omar Abdulrahman, tried and failed to make it to football’s biggest tournament, and a lot of the next three years’ work will likely depend on a new generation.

“I heard there were some young talents, so I’m anxious to know how good they are,” the Dutchman said. “I know the team has a few very good players — the UAE has a few weapons. 

“That’s the most important thing. If I didn’t see the potential, I wouldn’t sit here.”