Sports Reporter – The News
KARACHI: Last week’s bomb blast in Lyari during a street football tournament final has added to the responsibility of the Sindh government to take extra care in providing security to foreign footballers who are scheduled to arrive in the port city to feature in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-16 Championship Qualifiers to be held at the end of next month at the Peoples Sports Complex.
AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, while undeterred by the blast that had left around a dozen young fans killed and scores of other injured, showed his character by announcing that the event would be held in Pakistan.
“We are following the rise in popularity of football in Pakistan and we are confident that the AFC Under-16 Championship qualifiers will give a further boost to the efforts carried out by the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF),” Salman said.
Providing top security would not be a joke and the government should start working on it in order to ensure the successful holding of the qualifiers in Lyari which is regarded as the hub of football in the country.
Around ten days ago PFF had written letters to the Sindh Governor, Chief Minister, Commissioner, Home Secretary and Inspector General of Police (IGP) requesting them for providing foolproof security to the foreign players.
“Most probably the home secretary will write to us in a response tomorrow,” a PFF official told this correspondent on Monday.
‘The News’ has learnt that the AFC had written a letter to the PFF a few days ago asking it if Pakistan were unable to give security assurance the continental body would not give them the qualifiers.
Sources in the PFF even said if Sindh government did not cooperate then the qualifiers might be shifted to Lahore or any other city or even outside the country.
Karachi has a perfect chance to successfully host the qualifiers and it would be after eight long years that the provincial metropolis will be holding any major competition.
Last time, Karachi had hosted SAFF Cup in 2005 which featured eight nations of South Asia.
The qualifiers will be held from September 25 to 29 in which apart from Pakistan, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iran and Sri Lanka will show their worth.
As per instructions of the two-member inspection team of the AFC that visited here recently Sindh government will also have to focus on preparing the venue as per international standard.
There are several deficiencies inside the venue which need to be removed. A successful holding of the event will also encourage other countries to send their football teams to Pakistan.