Tuesday, Aug 16, 2022

AFC U-23 Championship Qualifier: Football Is No Cricket, And India May Well Play Against Pakistan

India, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are in the Group F of the qualification

The argument that India should not play Pakistan may not apply in football. After all, football is not cricket.

After the Pulwama terror attack, while the cricket fraternity has made suggestions on playing against Pakistan in the upcoming World Cup in England, hardly any coverage is given on the next month's India-Pakistan U-23 AFC Championship qualifier match.

According to a media report, AIFF has already put the ball in the Central government's court, saying it will follow the government's directive in the matter.

Former India skipper Bhaskar Ganguly, who captained India in the 1982 Asian Games, said that the All India Football Federation (AIFF) should take a call in the matter.

However, he said, he personally felt that since the match would be played on a neutral venue, Uzbekistan, India should play the match.

"It is a decision that needs to be taken by the AIFF. As of now, the relation between the two countries is not conducive to any kind of relation. However, since the match will be played in a neutral venue, India should go ahead and play the match," he said. "We should not mix sports with politics."

Sunil Chhetri, current India striker and skipper of the men in blue, refused to make any comment on the issue. His media manager informed IANS that he wouldn't like to comment on the issue.

Arjuna awardee India custodian Subrata Paul said that since there was a "war-like situation", whatever decision the football federation takes on playing against a Pakistani team, whatever the government of India asks the football federation to do, as players of the India team, all should follow.

"Whatever decision, the AIFF takes or Central government asks us to do, we will follow that," Paul said.

Meanwhile, reports claimed that Pakistan may not turn up for the Uzbekistan event thanks to the internal mess. FIFA and AFC have refused to accept the new body elected by the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF).

India and Pakistan are in the Group F of the qualification, along with Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. All the matches will be played in the Uzbek capital Tashkent. India are scheduled to take on Pakistan on March 26.

(With IANS inputs)


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