LAHORE - Punjab Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Rana Mashood Ahmed Khan Friday said the government wanted to portray soft image of the country by holding the AFC U-16 Football Championship Qualifying Round.
Addressing a press conference at the National Hockey Stadium, the minister said: “The Punjab government has made foolproof security measures for the successful holding of the football event which will attract spectators to throng the stadiums.”
He said it would be the first step towards the revival of international sports in the country. He also hoped that the upcoming event would also give tremendous boost to develop the game at the grassroots level and inspire the upcoming youngsters who would watch international players performing at their home soil.
The minister said that it was the vision of Punjab Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif which facilitated the participation of 26 foreign teams in the last year’s Punjab Youth Sports Festival. “During the football event, Punjab CM and foreign ambassadors in Pakistan will also come to the stadium to witness the international football activity in the home soil,” he stated. Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) secretary Col (retd) Ahmad Yar Khan Lodhi said that holding of the Football event in the city was a matter of pride for the whole country and the federation was thankful to Punjab CM Mian Shahbaz Sharif and Rana Mashood for providing their all-out support to the PFF in holding the event in a befitting manner. Organising committee of the qualifying round chairman Usman Anwar said that various countries of the world were following the model of Punjab Youth Sports Festival. He also hoped that holding of the event would help in building the soft image of the country.
Disclosing the schedule of the event, the PFF secretary said: “Pakistan will play against Iran in the opening match to be played on September 25 at 4 pm while the hosts will take on UAE in the second match at 7pm. On September 27, Pakistan will face Iran at 4 pm while Sri Lanka will vie against UAE at 7pm. Iran will clash against UAE on September 29 at 4pm while the hosts will face Sri Lanka at 7pm.”