As Pakistan prepares to face India in the SAFF Championship in the Indian city of Bengaluru today, it faced yet another blow ahead of the crucial match.
More than half of the Pakistani players, slated to play the game today, have missed their flight from Mumbai to Bengaluru earlier today, ESPN reported.
Pakistan team’s manager, Hasnain Haider, described how the team faced issues in India’s passport control office.
“We landed in Mumbai at 1:30 am, but there were no officials at the passport control office. They came after 30 minutes and gave us a few forms to fill out including the visa form, which we had already filled and submitted to the authorities before arriving in Mumbai,” he said.
The official added that the entire process took some time with the first group, comprising six players and six team officials, managing to board their flight at 3:55am.
“However, the second group [14 players and six officials] missed their flight because their forms took longer to be approved,” Haider added.
Following the development, more than half the players will reach Bengaluru only six hours before the kick-off since the next available flight left Mumbai at 9:15 am and would reach Bengaluru around 11 am and the players are likely to reach their hotel by 1 pm.
However, the Pakistan team is ready for the highly-anticipated clash against India despite travelling for nearly 17 hours.
“The players are ready to play, but obviously they are not in the best condition. None of them has caught any sleep and we’ve been travelling for nearly 17 hours now,” said Hasnain.
Earlier, the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) has turned down a request from Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) to reschedule Wednesday’s India vs Pakistan match.
The PFF had earlier requested the regional football body to reschedule the game after Pakistan’s travel plan was disturbed due to delay in visa issuance.
“As you’re well aware of the visa situation of the Pakistan Contingent travelling to SAFF championship 2023 due to which the contingent will be reaching Bangalore on the morning of 21st, which is the same day as match. Hence, we would like to officially request SAFF to reschedule the match to a later date so the team can have enough time to prepare after a long flight,” the PFF wrote to SAFF in an earlier e-mail.
However, the organisers of the SAFF Cup in Bangalore turned down PFF’s request saying that they are not in a position to reschedule the match.
“We were very much aware of your visa situation, but as several stakeholders including the broadcasters are involved, we are not in position to reschedule your match on 21st as it may jeopardise the whole championship,” the SAFF replied to PFF.