With the cricket World Cup quarter-final between arch-rivals India and Pakistan still in the reckoning, football teams from the two neighbouring countries are gearing up for a nerve-wrecking clash at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup qualifier in Malaysia next week.
The South Asian counterparts, placed in Group B will meet in Kuala Lumpur on March 23 with Pakistan looking to overcome their opponents.
“We’re eyeing to do well in the tournament especially in the game against India,” team’s seasoned striker Imran Niazi told The Express Tribune.
“There is always more motivation among players while competing against India than any other rival.”
The Indian side coached by Bob Houghton, a former Fulham star, has several star players including Sunil Chhetri who struck fame after scoring a hat-trick in the 2008 edition of the tournament. Pakistan, however, are ready to lock horns with their tough opponents.
“We’re undergoing several hours of training under coach Tariq Lutfi,” said Niazi, all set to make his 50th international appearance in the match.
Before the battle against India, Pakistan will open their campaign against Turkmenistan on March 21 and will play their last group match against Chinese Taipei on March 25.
“We need a positive start to do well in the tournament and before India we are looking towards the first match since it’s also important,” said the striker.
Meanwhile, Pakistan have trimmed the squad to 22 from the list of 37 probables while retaining foreign players.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2011.
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