Pakistan to take part in 2008 SAFF Championship

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Lahore, Oct 24: Pakistan will take part in the eight-nation South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) Championship along with arch-rival India next year, which will be held between last week of May and first week of June.

Maldives will be jointly hosting the championship along with Sri Lanka, as the small island nation, which is located south of India's Lakshadweep islands, is not capable of hosting all matches and thus it was decided that the 15-match event will be jointly conducted with the coordination of Sri Lanka. The teams will be divided into two groups. Both the nations will host one semi-final each.

The group matches that involve Maldives will be played in National Stadium, Male and group matches involving Sri Lanka will be played in Sugathadha Stadium, Colombo. The final of the 95,000 dollar event will also be played in Colombo .

It was also decided that in case of Sri Lanka -- Maldives semi final clash toss of coin will decide the venue.

The previous tournament was won by India at Karachi's Peoples Sports Complex two years ago, while Bangladesh was the runners up team. The two losing semi-finalists were Pakistan and Maldives.

A total of six tournaments were played in the past in which only three nations - India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh -- have won the tournament. The tournament is held biannually to promote the development of football in South Asia. The championship, which was launched at Lahore's Railway Stadium in 1993, was earlier known as SAARC Gold Cup. Since 1997 onwards it is known as the SAFF Championship.

UNI

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