Published in The News
KARACHI: Pakistan Under-16 football team will start its title defence against Afghanistan on Saturday (today) in the Group A opener of the 2nd Under-16 SAFF Cup in Kathmandu.
According to the draws held on Friday, Pakistan were placed in Group A with Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan while India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka were bracketed in Group B. Two teams from each group will qualify for the semi-finals to be held on July 27 and 28. The play-off for the third place and the final will be conducted on July 30.
All matches will start at 3:15 pm PST except the play-off for the third place which will kick off at 1:15pm PST.
Pakistan under coach Sajjad Mehmood will be defending their title which they had lifted in the inaugural edition also held in Kathmandu in 2011. Pakistan had remained undefeated in that tournament and had beaten arch-rivals India not only in the league stage but also 2-1 in the final to make history.
“All the players are fit and ready for the showdown against Afghanistan tomorrow,” coach Sajjad Mehmood told ‘The News’ from Kathmandu. “The weather here is a bit cool. We did our practice in the evening today,” said Sajjad.
Schedule: Group A: July 20: Nepal v Bhutan, Pakistan v Afghanistan, July 22: Nepal v Afghanistan, Pakistan v Bhutan, July 24: Pakistan v Nepal, Bhutan v Afghanistan, Group B: July 21: India v Sri Lanka, July 23: Bangladesh v Sri Lanka, July 25: India v Bangladesh, July27: 1st semi-final (winners Group A v runners-up Group B), July 28: 2nd semi-final (winners Group B v runners-up Group A), July 30: 3rd place play-off and final.
Pakistan squad: Mohammad Junaid, Wali Khan, Mohammad Shahbaz, Rashid Khan, Mohammad Zoaib, Mohammad Shoaib, Adnan Ashraf, Salman Rahim, Faisal Hassan, Muneer Ahmed, Zain-ul-Abideen, Mateen Akram, Zulfiqar, Arslan Ali, Mohammad Waleed Ayaz, Abdul Saboor, Rajab Ali, Adnan Khaliq, Hamza Shabir, Mohammad Mohsin Fareed, Officials: Sajjad Mehmood (head coach), Hassan Baloch (assistant coach), Nouman Ibrahim (goalkeeping coach), Kamran Mehdi (physiotherapist), Rana Naseer Ahmed (FIFA referee).