KARACHI: The Pakistan under-14 team coach complained that Afghanistan were fielding over-age players in the Asian Confederation (AFC) Under-14 Football Festival tournament taking place in Islamabad after the host teams lost three match on the opening day.
Pakistan lost the event’s opening match to Tajikistan 1-0 before the hosts’ second string – included to compensate for the withdrawals – lost 1-0 to Afghanistan and 2-0 to Tajikistan. The final match of the day was a stalemate between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The matches were all 30 minutes each which, according to coach Hasan Baloch, was a good way to use all 22 players in the squad. However, it was the seemingly over-aged Afghanistan players that irked the coach.
“It’s unfair that Afghanistan is fielding over-age players,” Baloch told The Express Tribune. “I accept our defeat against Tajikistan because it’s a good side but the Afghanistan players are all aged 16 to 18. That’s why they’re physically stronger, have more stamina and are taller than our players. It’s our bad luck that Iran, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan pulled out of the tournament otherwise I would’ve registered a complaint with the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF).”
According to Baloch, Afghanistan was also barred from taking part in the AFC under-16 championship after fielding over-age players.
Meanwhile, the PFF Secretary Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi said that the festival was about promoting football and grooming young talent so the results did not really matter.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 12th, 2012.