ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) secretary Lt Col (r) Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi has said that IPC minister Mian Riaz Hussian Pirzada has assured his all-out support to PFF in hosting SAFF Women Soccer Championship 2014.

“The IPC minister has assured us all-out support of IPC ministry and Pakistan Sports Board for smooth conduct of the South Asian Football Federation Women Soccer Championship in Islamabad from November 11-20. Eight teams of SAARC including India and Afghanistan have already confirmed their participation, said Col Lodhi while talking to The Nation after his successful meeting with IPC minister Mian Riaz Hussian Pirzada. PFF women committee chairperson senator Rubina Irfan and director youth Irfan Khan Niazi were also present during the meeting.

He added the minister not only agreed to provide boarding and lodging of the visiting teams, but also promised to provide official dinner to all the teams on Nov 19. “We also requested him to ensure renovation and maintenance work of Allama Iqbal and Fatima Jinnah hostels by October 25. The minister assured the hostels would be ready in time. We also requested him to ensure timely visa process and issuance of NOCs to India and Afghanistan teams, and the minister promised to provide best possible assistance in this regard. On request of becoming patron of the SAFF championship, he not only agreed but also promised to attend the inaugural ceremony as chief guest. He said he would try to invite Prime Minister as well,” he added.

Lodhi said during his meeting with CAA secretary Captain M Ali Gardezi, he was assured of allocation of special passes to PFF-nominated persons to receive the visiting teams and delegations both at Allama Iqbal International Airport and Benazir Bhutto International Airport.

“26 players will be shortlisted, who will report on October 10. After nine-day training, all the 26 players will travel to Bahrain on Oct 20 to play four friendly matches against Bahrain team and club teams and will return on Nov 1. We are trying to invite Nepal team on November 5, six days earlier, so that they may play practice matches against us,” he added.

“I must appreciate PFF president Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat’s tireless efforts, as he worked day and night to ensure this high-profile event’s allocation to Pakistan,” Lodhi concluded.