KARACHI: First All Pakistan Shaheed Jilani Khan Challenge Cup Football tournament 2020, carrying 16 outfits, will be held at the Essa Khan Football Academy Ground in Chaman, Balochistan, from September 15 to October 5.
Mohammad Essa, the organising secretary of the event and former Pakistan captain, on Monday told ‘The News’ that four teams from Afghanistan would also participate in the event. “Two of the four sides we invited from Afghanistan have already confirmed their entries. We are waiting for the response of the remaining two sides,” Essa said.
“These are not clubs but state teams from Afghanistan,” Essa was quick to add. “We have invited major departments of Pakistan and some have confirmed unofficially but we are waiting for the official confirmation,” said Essa, also a coach of K-Electric.
He said that the event carries a prize money of Rs1 million. He said that the organisers would provide accommodation to the touring sides. He said tough security arrangements would be in place. He said top security officials had already been informed about the event.
“There is peace here but still it is our responsibility to make the players and officials feel safe,” Essa said. He said that former top players have also been extended invitation. “We have got NOC from the PFF Normalisation Committee and we are thankful to the NC administration and chairman Humza Khan for the support,” Essa said. “NC will also provide us technical assistance during the event,” Essa said.
He said that the participating teams would be clubbed in four groups with the leading two sides from each pool qualifying for the quarter-finals. It will be the first big event since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. “Here district governments have already lifted restrictions and a few football events are being held currently,” Essa said.
The event is named after ANP senior vice-president Jilani Khan Achakzai, who lost his life in an attack in Chaman in 2010. Essa said that MPA Asghar Khan, the son of Shaheed Jilani Khan, supported the tournament. He said that Chaman people are die-hard supporters of football and he expects huge crowds to witness the matches. “Afghanistan people will also throng the venue in large numbers. I hope it will be a jam-packed venue,” Essa said.