Pakistan captain Jaffar Khan today said his team aims to win matches on the field and hearts off it during their tour of India for the regional championship. Pakistan left for Delhi to take part in the South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) tournament, where they are in Group B with Bangladesh, Maldives and Nepal.
"We are going to try to win the championship no matter how tough our matches are," said Khan, whose side starts on 2 December against Bangladesh, followed by the Maldives two days later before finishing the group stage against Nepal on 6 December. Defending champions and hosts India are in Group A with Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Bhutan. The top two teams from each group qualify for the semi-finals.
India froze all sporting relations with Pakistan after the 2008 attacks on Mumbai, which New Delhi blamed on militants based across the border in Pakistan. But a recent thaw in the broader relationship has led to hopes of a resumption of full sporting ties between the neighbours and rivals, most notably in cricket.
"We are the first team to visit India for a long time and I hope that with our good conduct and play we leave a good impression of Pakistan in India," said goalkeeper and skipper Khan. Pakistan play their first tournament under new Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevich, who was hired last month.