Pak football team in India for SAFF Championships

Updated: Nov 30, 2011, 22:20 PM IST

New Delhi: A 22-member Pakistan football team landed in New Delhi on Wednesday evening to participate in the SAFF Championships which begins on Friday.

Pakistan are in Group B along with Bangladesh, Maldives and Nepal while defending champions and hosts India are in Group A with Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Bhutan.

The top two teams from each group qualify for the semifinals in the December 2-11 regional tournament to be played at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium.

Pakistan captain Jaffar Khan said his team aims to win the hearts of Indian people during their tour, which will mark the revival of sporting ties between two neighbouring countries.

"We are the first team to visit India for a long time and I hope that with our good conduct and play we leave a good impression of Pakistan in India," Khan, who is also the goalkeeper of the side, said at Lahore International Airport before leaving for India.

"We are going to try to win the championship no matter how tough our matches are," he added.

Pakistan will open their campaign on Friday against Bangladesh, followed by matches against Maldives on December 4 and Nepal December 6.

India froze all sporting relations with Pakistan after the 2008 Mumbai attacks carried out by militants from across the border.

But a recent thaw in the relationship has led to hopes of a resumption of full sporting ties between the two nations.

Pakistan football team is being coached by Serbian Zavisa Milosavljevich, who was hired last month.