World Cup qualifier

Pakistani football fans faced the possibility of missing out on witnessing their national team play a crucial World Cup qualifier at home. The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) revealed that Jinnah Stadium in Islamabad, originally designated as the venue for the home match against Jordan, doesn’t meet FIFA’s criteria. However, there still seems to be hope for the national football fans.

According to the PFF, despite collaborating with the Pakistan Sports Board to upgrade the stadium’s facilities, the current standard isn’t sufficient. Challenges in meeting FIFA’s lighting requirements due to the Ramadan calendar further complicate the situation. Last month, the PFF had stated,

“In collaboration with the Pakistan Sports Board, the Pakistan Football Federation has been dedicatedly working on preparing Jinnah Stadium for the upcoming March match against Jordan,”

“Regrettably, despite our best efforts, the current standard of Jinnah Stadium does not meet FIFA requirements,” 

“As the March game is scheduled to be held under lights and coincides with Ramazan, meeting FIFA’s lighting standards with the current setup has posed difficulties,”

With a January 21st deadline looming for venue confirmation, the PFF was actively exploring alternative neutral locations to ensure the game’s integrity. While hosting the Tajikistan match in November saw 24,000 passionate fans at Jinnah Stadium, the prospect of missing the Jordan clash triggered disappointment among supporters.

PFF Hopeful for Hosting World Cup Qualifier

As of now, the PFF Normalisation Committee remains hopeful of hosting the match in Pakistan, seeking an extension from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) regarding the venue decision. Gratitude has been expressed towards the Pakistan Sports Board for their efforts to address lighting and seating issues.

As per the latest statement from PFF press conference in Lahore,

“We will try till the last moment that we get an extension from AFC and will continue to seek for the extension until they don’t allow us anymore. We are also thankful to the Pakistan Sports Board who keep working diligently on lights and seat issues.”

However, strict FIFA and AFC regulations require the host country to finalize the venue 60 days before the match, leaving uncertainty surrounding the crucial encounter scheduled for March 21st. The away leg in Jordan follows on March 26th.

Fans and stakeholders are anxious for a resolution, concerned about the potential impact of venue uncertainties on the team’s performance. The PFF faces pressure to find a swift solution to secure a smooth progression in the qualifying campaign. Discussions are also ongoing with the Jordan Football Association to explore the possibility of a neutral venue for the home leg.

Whether Pakistani fans will cheer their team on home soil or witness the match unfold elsewhere remains to be seen. The coming weeks will be crucial in determining the venue and ensuring a successful run for the national team in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers.

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