By Natasha Raheel,
KARACHI: Pakistan will be missing out on the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Solidarity Cup that will start today in Malaysia, and former national coach Shahzad Anwar feels that it adds to the country’s tainted sporting image at the global stage.
Pakistan withdrew from the seven-team tournament at the eleventh hour — a move that cost Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) $10,000 in fines imposed by the Asian Football Confederation.
Anwar revealed that he tried convincing PFF officials to send the team to Malaysia but his efforts went in vain.
“Our ranking is 197th, which means we are nowhere on the international football map. We should’ve gone to the Solidarity Cup because that would’ve helped the players and coaches,” Anwar told The Express Tribune.
He further added, “I asked administrative officials to arrange for the team to go, but nothing worked and in the end we got the news that PFF has withdrawn from the tournament.”
Anwar then pointed out that even Bhutan, which used to be the weakest team in the region, is faring better than Pakistan.
For the past year-and-a-half, football in Pakistan has suffered immensely due to infighting between rival PFF groups.
In one corner sits PFF president Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, who has the support of FIFA, while his rival in the power struggle remains the Lahore High Court-appointed administrator Asad Munir.
The two parties’ legal wrangling has brought the “Beautiful Game” to a standstill across the country.
“I don’t know much about the AFC fine, but our absence from international events is deeply damaging our football. We could have participated in the Solidarity Cup had both the groups compromised a little bit on their egos,” lamented Anwar.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 2nd, 2016.