By Mohammad Yaqoob [Dawn]
LAHORE: The Palestine Football Association (PFA) is likely to send its team for a tour to Pakistan in February before hosting the latter at home, a Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) official revealed on Saturday.
PFF Secretary Ahmed Yar Lodhi told Dawn, that in a communication to the PFF, Palestine had expressed its desire to play a series with Pakistan on reciprocal basis, adding they wanted to first host a series before sending their team to Pakistan.
“But the PFF has sent a proposal to them to first send their team to Pakistan and we have received a positive response from them,” Lodhi said.
“We are 99 per cent sure that Palestine will be here to play a two-match series which can be extended to three matches.”
“The PFF has the resources to organise two matches — one each in Lahore and Karachi — and if it succeeded in generating additional funds from the sponsors, a third match between the two countries could also be arranged,” he added.
According to the current proposal, Lahore would host the opening match against Palestine on Feb 27 while Karachi will stage the second game on March 2.
The visit by the Palestinian football team, if it goes through, would be the second high-profile series in Pakistan in February after Pakistan Hockey Federation arranged a similar series with their Egyptian counterparts.
The successful organization of the two tours will go a long way in allaying the fears of international teams reluctant to visit Pakistan after the 2009 attacks on the Sri Lankan cricket team.
Palestine’s football standard is almost at par with Pakistan (Palestine 177 in FIFA world rankings, Pakistan 171), but the passion and flair with which they play with will help a great deal in boosting football in the country.
Palestine enjoyed its highest FIFA ranking of 115 in 2006, as compared to Pakistan’s 141 in 1994, and played its first international home game in 2008 against Jordan in Al-Ram, a town near Jerusalem.