LAHORE - The visit of two foreign football teams, Palestine and Malaysia in March this year will herald the resumption of tours of foreign teams to Pakistan.
"The visit of the two foreign teams will help in ending sports isolation in Pakistan which has been deprived of hosting all types of international sports owing to security concerns, said President, PFF, Faisal Saleh Hayat here on Monday.
These two teams will be visiting Pakistan as a part of qualifying rounds of London Olympics football tournament.
Palestine National team will face Pakistan in the Lahore Test on March 1, followed by Karachi encounter on March 4. Later on, Pakistan Olympic Team will collide with Malaysian Olympic Team in the second leg of London Olympic Qualifiers on March 9.
“ When no one (foreign team) was ready to visit Pakistan, PFF hosted the Afghanistan women team in third National Women Championship in 2007 and Iran’s Malavan Bandar Anzali of Iran in the fifth edition of same event two years later, and now Palestine and Malaysian team would tour Pakistan,”he told the Associated Press of Pakistan (APP).
Pakistan, after two internationals at Lahore and Karachi, will reciprocate by visiting Palestine during April-May.
It was my wish to play three international friendlies in each countries but time and financial constraints are hampering not only the series but several other events/courses in PFF calendar 2011,said PFF Chief.
“ The more we play international matches, the more the team would develop for at least Asian standards. Soccer is not like hockey or cricket which are played in a handful countries. The competition is very tough in Soccer”, said Faisal who is also FIFA and World Disciplinary Committee member and Chairman AFC Disciplinary Committee.
Faisal informed that FIFA releases $250,000 annually to PFF under Financial Assistance Program (FAP) that too in various categories. PSB annual grant of Rs. 1.5 million is one of the hardship faced by the PFF not sufficient even for an event (Rs. 3 million alone were spent on Pakistan U23 team’s 16th Asian Games participation last November). PFF had to generate the money through other means as PFF has planned around 40 events during the year 2011 and an estimated budget to fulfil the needs is of Rs 50.5 million.
Even with financial constraints and sizeable annual budget Pakistan kept producing sensational results such as overwhelming Kyrgyzstan, Chinese Taipei, Turkmenistan, Singapore, India, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Nepal while drawing with Iraq, Iran, Oman, China and Bahrain in recent events.