The Pakistani selection will play a match in India. A first for almost 10 years.
Pakistan national football players have received visas for India, where they will face the host nation in the opening South Asian Championship on Wednesday, officials from both countries said on Monday.
The rival countries rarely play each other at home, in any sport, due to long-running political tensions heightened by the terrorist attacks. Mumbai in 2008 (more than 160 dead).
Pakistan’s participation in this regional football championship, which will take place in Bangalore (south) from June 21 to July 4, has also raised hopes that Islamabad will participate in the Cricket World Cup organized this year by the India from October 5 to November 19, despite its boycott threats.
The 32 Pakistani players received their visa for India on Monday
“As dedicated sportspeople, we understand the power of sport to transcend political boundaries and foster strong relationships between nationsPakistani captain Yousaf Butt told AFP. He was speaking from Mauritius, where Pakistan took part in a four-nation preparation competition.
“We will put on a performance worthy of the name (…), and off the pitch we will try to win hearts to ease tensions“, further ured the 33-year-old goalkeeper. The 32 Pakistani players selected for the tour received their visa late Monday afternoon.
The last time Pakistan played football in India was in 2014, when they had a two-game draw against the Indians. The two teams also faced each other in the South Asian Championship held in Bangladesh in 2018, with India winning 3-1.
Football is popular in both countries, but it is largely overshadowed by cricket. The South Asian championship, which includes eight nations, begins on Wednesday. Pakistan are in Group A along with India, Kuwait and Nepal. Group B features Lebanon, Maldives, Bhutan and Bangladesh.