Monday, December 31, 2007
Draw ceremony in Maldives on Feb 26: Pakistan will take part in SAFF Championship
Pakistan will be aiming for a gold medal in the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship to be jointly hosted by Colombo (Sri Lanka) and Male (Maldives). The eight-nation event will be played from last week of May to first week of June 2008. Pakistan have never won a SAFF title and their only medal was a bronze in Kathmandu in 1997. The final will be held at Colombo’s Sugathadasa Stadium, which has always been a lucky ground for Pakistan. Pakistan have won SAF Games soccer titles in 1991 and 2006 there. Male will host the draw ceremony on February 25, 2008.
“SAFF president Ganesh Thapa (Nepal) and secretary generals of eight participating nations – Manzoor Hassain (Bangladesh), AH Abdul Ghafoor (Maldives), Ahmad Yar Khan Lodhi (Pakistan), Albert Colaco (India), Ugyen Wanchuk (Bhuthan), Mukthar Rustami (Afghanistan), Narendra Shrestha (Nepal) and Hafiz Marikar (Sri Lanka) – will attend the draw ceremony,” a spokesman for the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) said on Sunday.
The spokesman said Maldives was a country that had taken great strides in promoting football. “But they are not capable of hosting all matches and Sri Lanka, as a support, decided to jointly conduct this 15-match tourney. The teams will be divided into two groups. Both the nations will host one semi-final. The group matches that involve Maldives will be played in National Stadium Male’ and group matches involving Sri Lanka will be played in Sugathadasa Stadium, Colombo,” he added.
World Sports Group (WSG) of Singapore, the sponsors of the Asian soccer since 1992, are the main sponsors of the championship. The sponsors have agreed to offer prize money to the value of $95,000, winner collecting $50,000, runners-up $25,000 and losing semi-finalists $10,000 each. A total of six tournaments have been played previously. India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are the only three nations who won the tournament.
The SAFF Championship is held biannually to promote the development of football in South Asia. It was launched at Lahore’s Railway Stadium in 1993 as SAARC Gold Cup, but the name was changed in 1997 as the SAFF Championship.
Source: Daily Times