KARACHI: The AFC President’s Cup begins in Lahore today with Pakistan’s KRL taking on Mongolia’s Erchim FC at the Punjab Stadium.
The visiting Mongolian team, however, is unhappy with the state of the football pitch in the stadium.
“The pitches are very dry here and we were hoping it would be greener,” Erchim’s coach Batnasan told The Express Tribune. “Our players have to be very careful as this can cause serious injury. The game, too, will be very slow.”
KRL coach Tariq Lutfi, who is very confident about his team ahead of the opening match, agreed with Batnasan, adding that the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) tried to maintain the ground but conditions could have been better.
“We have spent the last two weeks practicing here so we’re very comfortable with this pitch,” said Lutfi. “I feel that it will work to our advantage. The PFF could have improved the quality since they had enough time before the event.”
The President’s Cup features three teams with the top two qualifying for the next round that will be played in September.
The event was dealt a major blow when Bangladesh’s Sheikh Jamal Football Club pulled out of the event due to security reasons.
Batnasan, meanwhile, was satisfied with the security arrangements in Lahore. Similarly, Chinese Taipei Champions Taiwan Power Company’s coach Chen Knei Jen said that his team was anxious about coming to Pakistan but it feels safe in Lahore.
“We don’t feel threatened,” said Jen. “We arrived on Sunday and are satisfied with the security arrangements.”
All three sides in the event will play each other once. The second match takes place on Thursday between Taiwan Power Company and Erchim FC.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2012.
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