Palestine football team to play in Pakistan: PFF

Updated: Jan 02, 2011, 23:10 PM IST

Karachi: The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) today announced that the Palestine Football Association (PFA) has agreed to send its national team to the strife-torn country in February for a bilateral series.

"The confirmation from the Palestinians is a big boost for football in the country and also another reminder that foreign teams are now willing to visit Pakistan for international sporting competitions," PFF President Saleh Faisal Hayat said at a news conference in Lahore.

Hayat said the PFF would also visit Palestine for a return series this year.

The confirmation of the Palestinian team comes just days after the Pakistan Hockey Federation announced the Egyptian team would be touring the country in March for a Test series and after the successful hosting of the 31st National Games in Peshawar which has been hit by constant militant attacks in recent times.

"It is good new for Pakistan sports that teams are now ready to come to Pakistan it indicates they have confidence in our ability to provide them proper security," Hayat said.

He said attempts were also being made to convince the Malaysian and Thailand teams to visit Pakistan this year.

"Our objective is to organise international matches for our team at home so that it also paves the way for foreign teams to resume playing in Pakistan in all sports. Our teams cannot improve unless they play in front of home crowds," the PFF President said.

According to details, Lahore would host the opening match against Palestine on February 27 while Karachi will stage the second game on March 2 and if the PFF gets additional funds a third match would also be held.

Hayat said the visits by Egypt hockey team and Palestine football players should go a long way in allaying the fears of international teams, reluctant to visit Pakistan after the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009.

Palestine`s football standard is almost at par with Pakistan (Palestine is 177 in FIFA world rankings, Pakistan 171), but the passion and flair with which they play with will help a great deal in boosting football inthe country.

Asked about why the PFF had not renewed a contract with English coach, Graham Robertson, Hayat said the federation required around 12 million rupees annually to pay his fees and was not in a position to do this because of financial problems.

"We also know that without a foreign coach our players cannot improve rapidly but if we don`t have funds we are also helpless that is why we are trying to sign new sponsorship deals to raise money," he added.