Pakistan to host South Asia football championship and two other soccer tournaments

A view of the match among the women football teams of Nepal and Bangladesh in the third SAFF women championship. (Photo courtesy: PFF)
Updated 14 April 2018
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Pakistan to host South Asia football championship and two other soccer tournaments

  • Pakistan will host three tournaments in the next three years, including a championship for women
  • It comes a month after country was reinstated by international football body FIFA

LAHORE: Pakistan is to host a series of international soccer competitions, with three regional tournaments set to be played in the country over the next three years.
They will be the first events since the restoration of the Pakistan Football Federation’s (PFF) membership of world soccer body FIFA in March 2018.
“Pakistan will host the South Asia Football Federations (SAFF) Championship 2020 and the SAFF under-15 boys’ championship in 2019, while the under-19 women’s soccer championship will also be played on our soil in 2021,” said PFF Director of League Development and Media Shahid Khokhar.
The decision to award the hosting duties to Pakistan was made at a SAFF gathering in Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 11, presided over by Kazi Salahuddin, president of the Bangladesh Football Federation and of SAFF. Representatives of the football federations of Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka attended.
Pakistan previously hosted the SAFF Championshipin 1993, when it was won by India. The PFF described the hosting duties as a big achievement, adding that it has been a long time since international soccer stars played in Pakistani stadiums.
SAFF’s office bearers for the next four-year term were also elected during the meeting, with Syed Khadim Ali Shah, the senior vice president of the PFF, appointed vice president of the South Asian soccer body.
“The unopposed election of Syed Khadim Ali Shah is an honor for Pakistan and we hope that Mr. Shah will keep on serving Pakistan’s football and playing his positive role in regional football development,” the PFF said.
“The SAFF Championship, also called South Asian Football Federation Cup ... is the main association-football competition for the men’s national football teams governed by SAFF.”
PFF President Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat said he hoped that the developments will help Pakistan earn more respect in world sports. He added that his team was grateful to the South-Asian nations for supporting Pakistan in its promotion of the game, and he vowed to improve Pakistani football.
“Pakistan’s football has suffered a lot in the past three years but, with the support of International football community, we are fully committed to bring it back on the progressive track” he said.
Fans in Pakistan were delighted to hear about the return of international soccer.
“It is a very good sign for sport of football,” said Amjad Maroof, a university student. We are jubilant that Pakistan will be hosting international football tournaments. We will open our hearts for the visiting international footballers.”
Members of the media were also delighted with the news.
“Pakistan has been deprived of hosting international sport events, causing a drain of talent,” said Ehtishamul Haq, a senior sports journalist. “The SAFF decision is a good omen for the sport as it will help to improve the skills of our footballers.”


Joe Root ton puts England on top against Sri Lanka

Updated 17 November 2018
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Joe Root ton puts England on top against Sri Lanka

KANDY: Captain Joe Root smashed 124 and newcomer Ben Foakes again hit valuable tail end runs to put England in command of the second Test against Sri Lanka on Friday.
England reached 324 for nine — a second innings lead of 278 — when bad light stopped play for the day in Kandy.
Foakes was batting on 51 alongside James Anderson on four.
Spinner Akila Danajanya, whose action is under investigation by the International Cricket Council, claimed six wickets on the turning pitch.
He trapped Root lbw and then bowled Sam Curran for nought with his next ball. Adil Rashid thwarted the hat-trick but soon fell to Dananjaya’s guile for two.
It was his third five wicket haul in just his fifth Test for Dananjaya, who must rush off to Australia after the game for an ICC examination of his bowling.
He however could not stop Root and Foakes swinging the game.
Root reached his 15th Test ton soon after tea, making the sweep and reverse sweep valuable weapons, as he hit 10 fours and two sixes in his 146-ball knock.
Root said he enjoyed making the runs despite the pressure.
“That’s what it should be. You shouldn’t feel pressure like the pressure is too much for you, you should enjoy the occasion and make the most of the opportunity in front of you,” he said after the day’s play.
“The whole group managed to harness that today and make the most of it.”
Root raised his bat to a standing ovation from traveling English fans who also lauded Foakes.
Root made an 82-run seventh wicket stand with Foakes, who reached his fifty with a six off Dilruwan Perera. The hit turned out to be the last ball of the day with dark clouds gathering and thunder heard in the distance.
As he did in his sparkling century on Test debut in the opening game of the series, Foakes mixed caution and aggression to push up the England score.
Every one of England’s top seven batsmen were out attempting a sweep of some description.
Jos Buttler dragged one of Dananjaya’s deliveries onto his stumps while trying to reverse sweep on 34. Moeen Ali was trapped lbw for 10 after failing to connect with an attempted sweep.
“From my point of view, it was almost a safer shot than playing the forward defensive,” said Root.
“With the amount the ball was turning there’s a lot of risk involved in that. At times attack is the best form of defense on a wicket like that.”
Earlier, left-hander Rory Burns registered his maiden Test half-century in just his second match. He was trapped lbw off Malinda Pushpakumara for 59.
Burns then put together 73 runs for the second wicket with Keaton Jennings, who made 26, to steady the innings and help England overcome their 46-run deficit.
“I think the temptation with a deficit like that going into the second innings is to play within your shell and be a bit insular but the guys went out and set the tone at top of the order,” said Root.
“It was really pleasing to see inexperienced guys as Test cricketers really set the benchmark for the rest of the group, a really good platform for us.
“Hopefully we still stretch the lead further and that should be a good chase on this surface.”