Pakistan keen to host Bangladesh

Pakistani football says it is confident next month's home World Cup qualifier against Bangladesh will go ahead, promising tight security for the match.

After the first leg of their Asian zone qualifier for the 2014 World Cup in Dhaka on 29 June, the two sides are scheduled to meet in Lahore on 3 July.

But arrangements ran into trouble after Bangladesh asked FIFA, the game's ruling body, to relocate the match due to security fears.

FIFA has apparently rejected the request in a move welcomed by Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) secretary Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi.

"We hosted Palestine and Malaysia earlier this year and both the teams returned happy, so we have proper security arrangements in place and we are confident that the match will go ahead," Lodhi told AFP.

Pakistan has not hosted any major sporting event since militants attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore in March 2009, killing eight people and wounding seven visiting players and an assistant coach.

"FIFA knows of our security arrangements made for the Palestine and Malaysian teams so they have no problems and we assure Bangladesh that they will be well looked after," said Lodhi.

Bangladesh Football Federation chief Kazi Salahuddin told AFP that FIFA turned down its request to host both games against Pakistan.

"FIFA rejected our request. So our national team will go to Pakistan play the match on July 3," he said, adding that he had not been told where the game will be played.

Team coach Robert Rubcic did not want to travel to the troubled country, Salahuddin said, but the team's appeal to FIFA fell on deaf ears.

The 2009 attack on Sri Lanka's cricketers forced Pakistan to play its home cricket ties on neutral grounds in England, New Zealand and the United Arab Emirates. Only the Afghanistan cricket team has since toured Pakistan.

Efforts by the Pakistan Cricket Board to host Sri Lanka later this year were also dashed after militants attacked a naval base last month and carried out other high-profile strikes after the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Sri Lanka Cricket refused to send its team, instead offering its grounds to play the three Tests, five one-day and a Twenty20 match series.

Pakistan has never qualified for the football World Cup and is placed 168th in the FIFA world rankings.

Source AFP