Lahore, 8 October : “Pakistan will face Oman during the football event of XVI Asian Games to be held under Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) at Chinese city Guangzhou from 7-26 November 2010. The opening match will be played 5 days prior to the opening ceremony at Haixinsha Island in the Pearl River. Other Pakistan’s opponents in Group-F will be Thailand and Maldives.
The competition like the Olympic football tournament will be an Under-23 tournament with three over aged players allowed per squad. The players born on or after 1 January 1987 will be eligible as U23 players. The football competitions will be played across seven venues – Ying Dong Stadium, Huadu Stadium, Huangpu Stadium, Yuexiu Stadium, Guangdong People’s Stadium, Huagdong Stadium and Tianhe Stadium. The dimension of playing field of all seven venues as well as 17 training venues will be 105 x 68 meters.
The event will see 24 teams divided into six groups of four teams each with the top two sides from each group plus the four best third placed teams making it into the Round of 16. From there on it would be a knockout tournament to win the gold medal. Built in 1987, 60,000-capacity Tianhe stadium that hosted the final of the inaugural FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1991, will host the final on Friday, 26 November (8 PM Kick-off).
Defending Asian Games champions Qatar have been handed a relatively easy group in 52-match show. Qatar, who defeated Iraq 1-0 in the final of the last edition of the Asian Games held in their own backyard, are being placed in Group D alongside Kuwait, India and Singapore.
Pakistani football team was deleted from the Asian Games on 28 June, but committed President of Pakistan Football Federation Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat won the hearts of football fraternity when he convinced the POA to include it in the contingent by offering to bear the expenses of the team’s participation in the Asian Games and National U23 team made re-entry on 27 August. Since 2002 Busan Games, football at the Asian Games changed to age-limit and now it is a “U23 + 3 overage” tournament.
It will be eighth trip to Asian Games for Pakistan who appeared in seven editions out of 15 so far in Manila 1954, Tokyo 1958, Tehran 1974, Seoul 1986, Beijing 1990, Busan 2002, Doha 2006. They missed the soccer event of quadrennial Games eight times at New Delhi 1951,1982 Jakarta 1962, Bangkok 1966,1970, 1978, 1998, Hiroshima 1994.
“Moving into the knockout stages is surely possible for the Akhtar Mohiuddin coached boys from Group-F but for that a win against Maldives is a must plus good results against Thailand and the mighty Omanis.
Hosts China were slotted in Group A alongwith Malaysia, Kyrgyzstan and Japan. Group B includes Iran, Vietnam, Bahrain and Turkmenistan while Group C comprise of Korea Republic, Palestine, Jordan and DPR Korea. Uzbekistan, UAE, Hong Kong and Bangladesh form Group E.
Group A: China, Malaysia, Kyrgyzstan, Japan
Group B: Iran, Vietnam, Bahrain, Turkmenistan
Group C: Korea Republic, Palestine, Jordan, DPR Korea
Group D: Qatar, Kuwait, India, Singapore
Group E: Uzbekistan, UAE, Hong Kong, Bangladesh
Group F: Pakistan, Thailand, Maldives, Oman