By Natasha Raheel – Express Tribune
KARACHI: The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) unveiled the draws for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) U16 Championship qualifiers at a joint press conference with the Punjab Minister of Education and Sport Rana Masood in Lahore yesterday.
The qualifiers will be the first international event that the PFF will host this year. Teams from Iran, Sri Lanka and the UAE will arrive for the championship on September 22, while the opening matches will take place on September 25.
Iran will begin the championship qualifiers for Group E with their match against Sri Lanka while Pakistan and the UAE will play the second match in floodlights at the Punjab Football Stadium.
The tournament will conclude on September 29 and one team from each group will progress to the next round of the championship.
Earlier, the qualifiers were scheduled to take place in Karachi. However, the PFF shifted the event to Lahore due to the uncertain law and order situation in the coastal city.
Masood assured in the press conference that the Punjab government has taken necessary measures for the safety of the players while PFF Secretary Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi thanked him for his prompt support.
“We are fully satisfied with the arrangements by the Punjab government,” Lodhi told the media.
Meanwhile, the national U16 team coach Hasan Baloch said that Iran will be his team’s biggest opponents in the event.
“We still haven’t defeated Iran in the junior competitions,” Baloch told The Express Tribune. “UAE are a good side too, but we have defeated them in other competitions before. I hope we win against Iran this time and qualify for the next round.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2013.