PFF announces National Football Cup 2018 after FIFA lifts ban

A group photo of the senior football team in Pakistan. (Photo courtesy: Pakistan Football Federation)
Updated 31 March 2018
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PFF announces National Football Cup 2018 after FIFA lifts ban

LAHORE: Taking a step forward to revive the sport after FIFA restored the country’s membership, Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has announced it is holding the National Football Challenge Cup 2018 after a gap of two years, Shahid Khokhar, Director League Development and Media, confirmed to Arab News.
The challenge cup will be played from April 20 to May 10 in Karachi, where 24 teams are expected to participate.
In the last challenge cup played in 2016, 16 teams faced each other to lift the trophy, while the number of participating teams in 2015 was 14. This year more teams have showed an interest in taking part. Matches will be played on the grounds of Karachi Port Trust.
“The cup is a major milestone in the revival of football in the country, a step to cultivate talent and take the sport to new heights. The wastelands of football will be turned into green meadows of the sport now,” jubilant Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, president of the PFF, told Arab News.
The tournament was initiated in 1979 and had been played under different names — the Pakistan Football Federation President’s Cup, the Pakistan Inter-Departmental Championship, the National Departmental Championship, the Inter Provincial Championship — but in the year 2005 its name was changed to National Football Challenge Cup.
It is the first tournament of the Faisal-led PFF body after a gap of three years, as the federation was being run by a court-appointed administrator. The appointment of the administrator was declared unlawful by a division bench of the High Court which ordered financial and administrative control to be handed over to the legitimate body headed by Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat.
FIFA also lifted the ban imposed on PFF earlier this month after the legitimate body was restored by the court ruling.
“We got a positive response from football lovers as many new teams are vying to get registered in the National Challenge Cup 2018,” Hayat added.
The PFF secretary, Col. Ahmad Yar Lodhi, has also appreciated the formation of new departmental clubs.
It is “good for the game as it will support the endeavors of PFF in many ways,” reads a federation press release. “It would not only help groom new talent but many football coaches would also get employment with the new teams.”
Pakistan State Life Insurance, Asia Ghee Mills and Shama Banaspati have approached PFF for their teams to be registered for the National Challenge Cup 2018.
The PFF is vying to find new blood in Pakistani football and plans to form a special committee to find new talent for the national team.


Maria Sharapova looks back to her best as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal show no signs of slowing down

Updated 42 min 48 sec ago
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Maria Sharapova looks back to her best as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal show no signs of slowing down

  • Sharapova dumps out defending champion Caroline Wozniacki.
  • Rafa and Roger brush aside young guns in straight sets victories.

LONDON: It is coming up to the end of the first week of the Australian Open, so we thought we would take a look and see how some of the big names fared on day five of the year’s first Grand Slam.

MARIA SHARAPOVA

Maria Sharapova warned she is in the sort of form to win the Australian Open after she dumped Carolina Wozniacki out with an impressive 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win. It was the Russian’s best win since her return from a drugs ban and she looked like a winner-in-waiting.
“I thought the level was quite high. I knew I’d get a tough match — she (Wozniacki) is the defending champion,” the five-time Slam champion said.
“I haven’t played many matches in the last year against top players so it was really rewarding to win that last set. These are the kinds of matches I train for.”



ROGER FEDERER

Ageless Roger Federer marked his 100th Rod Laver Arena match Friday by storming past Taylor Fritz, then looked forward to a “high quality” last-16 clash against another young gun, Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion continued his quest for a record seventh Australian Open title with a 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 third-round demolition of 21-year-old American Fritz in just 88 minutes of flawless tennis.
Next up is 14th seed Tsitsipas. And the 37-year-old Federer is looking forward to taking on the fiery young Greek, who is 17 years his junior.
Federer played him in the recent mixed teams Hopman Cup, winning a closely contested singles 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/4), and said he was impressed.
“I think he played really well there. I actually did too. I thought it was really high quality tennis,” Federer said.
“This is obviously a different type of match, it being best of five, it being a fourth round of a Slam.”



RAFAEL NADAL

Rafael Nadal declared “everything is a step forward” after brutally brushing aside Alex de Minaur at the Australian Open Friday in just the Spaniard’s third match since the US Open.
The world No. 2 was in ominous form as he continued his quest for an 18th Grand Slam by punishing the Australian teenager in a third-round tennis masterclass 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.
“In general terms, everything is a step forward. So that’s positive news for me,” said the man who won the Aussie Open in 2009.
“I’m very happy for the victory against someone who had won seven matches in a row, winning a tournament.”
On his fitness Nadal added: “Probably 10 years ago it would have been difficult not playing much tennis in the build-up but now I have been in this situation many times with the injuries I have had.
“I have to deal with the ups and downs of my body but I try to enjoy any moment on the court.”



MARIN CILIC

The former US Open champions was made to work for his place in the last 16 as he struggled to beat Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6, 6-3. Verdasco showed glimpses of the form that once made him a top-10 player and had a match point, one he frittered away with a double fault.
I was just slightly luckier in those crucial moments,” the sixth-seeded Cilic said.
“(It is) unbelievable. Emotions were up and down,” Cilic said.
“When I was down two sets to none, it was a big hill to climb.”
It’s the seventh time in Cilic’s career that he has emerged to win a match after dropping the opening two sets.



ANGELIQUE KERBER

Second seed Kerber received a gift ride into the Australian Open fourth round for her 31st birthday when she overpowered local wildcard Kimberly Birrell 6-1, 6-0.
The Wimbledon champion swept world No. 240 Birrell aside in just 58 minutes to set up a last-16 clash with unseeded American Danielle Collins.
Kerber, a winner at Melbourne Park in 2016, said she was used to celebrating her birthday on the road at the season-opening Grand Slam.
“I think it’s the 12th time in a row,” she said. “I’m getting older but I have the best time here and I’ll never forget my birthdays here in Australia.”
Kerber reached the semifinals last year but lost to Simona Halep in a tight three-setter.