Pakistan Football Federation Proposes New Timing for FIFA World Cup Qualifier Against Saudi Arabia Due to Lighting Issues

Islamabad: The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has initiated discussions with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) regarding a proposed change in the kickoff time for the upcoming FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. Originally scheduled for June 6 at 8:30 PM, the match is set to take place at Jinnah Stadium in Islamabad. However, recent developments concerning the stadium’s floodlighting have prompted the PFF to reconsider the timing of the game.

The Jinnah Stadium, which was slated to host the important qualifier, recently underwent an upgrade with new floodlights. Unfortunately, a testing report conducted by the PFF revealed that these newly installed lights do not meet FIFA standards. The report highlighted that the illumination across the field is uneven, and the lighting around the goal posts is particularly insufficient. These deficiencies raise significant concerns about the adequacy of the stadium lighting for an evening match.

Given these lighting issues, there were initial speculations that the match might need to be moved to a neutral venue to ensure compliance with international standards and provide a suitable playing environment. However, rather than relocating the match, the PFF has opted to explore alternative solutions to keep the game in Islamabad.

Sources within the PFF have confirmed that discussions are ongoing with the AFC to consider rescheduling the match to an earlier time. The proposed new kickoff time is 5:30 PM, a shift from the originally planned 8:30 PM. This adjustment would allow the match to be played largely in natural daylight, thereby mitigating the problems posed by the inadequate floodlighting.

The rationale behind this proposal is twofold. Firstly, starting the match at 5:30 PM would reduce the reliance on artificial lighting, ensuring that visibility and playing conditions remain optimal throughout the game. Secondly, the earlier start would also help in managing the intense heat, which can be a significant factor for both players and spectators. By commencing the match in the late afternoon, the teams would avoid the peak heat of the day, potentially leading to a more comfortable and competitive playing environment.

The PFF is optimistic that this proposed change will be acceptable to the AFC and all relevant stakeholders. The federation’s primary goal is to maintain the home advantage by keeping the match in Islamabad, thereby giving the national team the benefit of local support. Moving the match to a neutral venue could have logistical and psychological impacts on the team, which the PFF aims to avoid through this time adjustment.

In their discussions with the AFC, PFF officials have emphasized the importance of hosting the match in Pakistan, highlighting the country’s enthusiasm for football and the significance of such high-profile matches for promoting the sport locally. They have also assured the AFC that all other aspects of the stadium’s infrastructure and security arrangements are in place to host an international fixture of this magnitude.

The proposed change is seen as a pragmatic solution that addresses the immediate issue of inadequate lighting while preserving the integrity of the match’s scheduling and location. The PFF’s proactive approach in engaging with the AFC demonstrates their commitment to finding a workable solution that benefits all parties involved, particularly the players and fans.

The Pakistan Football Federation is in active discussions with the Asian Football Confederation to reschedule the FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to 5:30 PM on June 6, instead of the original 8:30 PM start time. This change is prompted by the need to address lighting deficiencies at Jinnah Stadium in Islamabad. By proposing an earlier kickoff, the PFF aims to ensure optimal playing conditions and retain the match’s location, thereby supporting the national team’s performance and fan engagement.