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.”


Saudi Arabia to face Japan in Asian Cup second round after defeat to Qatar

Updated 17 January 2019
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Saudi Arabia to face Japan in Asian Cup second round after defeat to Qatar

  • A double from Almoez Ali means Qatar top Group E.
  • Juan Antonio Pizzi's men now face Japan in second round on Monday.

LONDON: Saudi Arabia now know they will have to overcome Japan in the second round if they are to keep their hopes of a fourth Asian Cup title alive. 

A 2-0 defeat at the hands of Qatar meant Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men finished second in Group E — both sides went into the top-of-the-table clash knowing they had already secured a spot in the knockout stages. 

A brace from Almoez Ali in Abu Dhabi was enough to give Qatar the three points and leave them top of the group. 

From the kick-off the Green Falcons were the ones who looked the more likely to make the initial breakthrough —  Fahad Almuwallad slamming a right-foot shot against the post after 22 minutes.

Qatar captain Hasan Al-Haydos then missed a penalty in the 42nd minute after Ali had been clattered in the box.

But Ali, who scored four goals in Qatar's 6-0 rout of North Korea last weekend, made no mistake in first-half stoppage time.

He calmly slotted the ball past Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed Alowais to become the first player to score six goals in a single Asian Cup since South Korea's Lee Dong-gook in 2000.

Ali subsequently headed in a seventh goal of the tournament 10 minutes from time, celebrating with a jig of delight.

While the defeat was not ideal Green Falcons coach Pizzi said he was still hopeful Saudi Arabia would be able to go far in the tournament. 

"It was an intense game but we have to hide our feelings and prepare for the last 16," Pizzi said.

"We were missing quality in the final third and individual errors have cost us," he added.

"But we will bounce back. I respect every team left in the competition, including Japan, but I don't feel that we are inferior to them in any way."

Qatar, who have never gone beyond the quarterfinals, advance to face Iraq in the last 16.