Pakistan’s SAFF fate in the balance
While seven out of eight participating nations are gearing up for a pre-SAFF Championship press conference in Bengaluru today, Pakistan team is still waiting for Indian visas to come to the country.
The 14th edition of the regional football extravaganza is scheduled to get underway in Bengaluru on Wednesday, with hosts India scheduled to play against Pakistan in the day's second match while Kuwait and Nepal will play the first match at Sree Kanteerava Stadium in Bengaluru.
Lebanon, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan and Nepal teams are already in India but Pakistan, who were supposed to land in the country on Sunday after completing their four-nation tournament campaign in Mauritius, had to cancel their flight for failing to obtain Indian visas.
"They (Pakistan) have not gotten the visa till now. The AIFF secretary general informed me that they are waiting for a letter from the Indian govt. If the letter is issued by today, Pakistan can arrive tomorrow," SAFF general secretary Anwarul Haque Helal told The Daily Star on Monday.
When asked what would happen if Pakistan team do not get the visas on time, Helal said, "We have nothing to do and we can't defer the championship because there are things like broadcast and return flight of the teams related to the matter of deferment. Let's hope Pakistan arrive tomorrow and play the next day."
Helal also informed the referees from Bangladesh and Pakistan have also not gotten their visas yet.