LAHORE - The AFC U-16 Championship will commence today (Wednesday) here at the Punjab Stadium amid expectation that it will help in bringing international sports back to Pakistan.

The foreign teams, which came to Pakistan to take part in the AFC U-16 Championship, Tuesday vowed to play positive but competitive game to entertain the spectators and also expressed satisfaction over the arrangements made by the organisers for the international event at the Punjab Stadium.

In their first interaction with media at the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) conference hall here on Tuesday, they all thanked the federation and the organising committee for making excellent arrangements for the event. “We are glad to be here in the historic city of Lahore and are looking forward to get feeling of their warm hospitality. We are also thankful to the PFF, Sports Board Punjab (SBP) and the media for their excellent arrangements and hospitality,” said Iranian team head coach Mostafa Ghanbar Pour.

He said all teams participating in the event were equal and the spectators would enjoy competitive football in the forthcoming matches. “My team will play in the best spirit of sportsmanship and I hope my boys will give their best performance to qualify for the finals in Thailand next year.”

United Arab Emirates coach Badir Ahmed Abdalla Saleh also thanked the hosts for making good arrangements for the event and said his team had to face tough opponents in the championship. “Iranian team will be the toughest and I hope my team, which has recently won Gulf Cup, will deliver as the players are in high spirit to win the championship.”

Sri Lankan team coach Wijesekara Nimal said his team had made good preparation for the event. “My team’s defense line was strong and I also expect brilliant performance from goalkeeper. Weather conditions in Lahore are identical to Sri Lanka’s and my team feels no problem in adjusting with them. However, I admit that Iran is the strongest team in the event.”

Pakistan coach Sajjad Mehmood vowed to put up excellent performance before the home crowd and said his boys had undergone tough training to win the qualifying round. “Only Iran will be the toughest opponent in the championship. I hope this event will provide a chance to the upcoming youngsters to groom themselves for the big international events.” Captain Rajab Ali also vowed to deliver in the championship and win laurels for the country.