Sport can improve relations, feels Pakistan football skipper

Last Updated: Dec 01, 2011, 16:16 PM IST

New Delhi: Captain of the Pakistan football team, Jaffar Khan is certain that resumption of sporting ties between India and Pakistan will go a long way in improving the strained relations between the two nations.

Here for the SAFF Championship, starting here tomorrow at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, Khan pitched for more such ties in the near future.

"I think all differences can be sorted out through sports," Khan said on the eve of his team`s match against Bangladesh.

India froze all sporting relations with Pakistan after the November 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai. But a recent thaw in the broader relationship has led to hopes of a resumption of full sporting ties between the two neighbours.

Khan felt that instead of playing at neutral venues, both Pakistan and India should play each other in their respective countries.

India and Pakistan were scheduled to play in a series of friendly matches in the United Kingdom earlier this year.

"There is no point playing in England or any other foreign countries," Khan, who aims to win matches on the field and hearts off it during the two-week long regional
championship, said.

Khan said his team was under no pressure despite playing in India.

"India is like our own country. There is no pressure playing in India and only the cowards would feel the pressure," he said.

Recalling a series in 2005, Khan said, "India played a series in Pakistan in 2005 and after that we were supposed to travel to India but that never happened."

Asked about the last time they played in India in the SAFF Cup, Khan said it was in 2003 when they emerged victorious.

Though he termed Maldives and Bhutan as strong outfits, Khan said an Indo-Pak final would attract more crowd.

Despite being a Serbian, new coach Zavisa Milosavljevich, who was hired last month, too, felt that there is something when India and Pakistan play each other.

"It`s a big challenge for both the teams because of many reasons. There is fierce competition between the two nations as they were the same country some 60 years ago," Milosavljevich said.

About South Asian football, the Serbian felt it needed more professional clubs and qualified coaches.

"Only then can you expect results after generations," he said.

He admitted that not being clubbed with India has made their task in the tournament a bit easier.

PTI