ISLAMABAD – All India Football Federation (AIFA) feels the two-match series played this month against Pakistan after a long gap of nine years will go a long way in promoting friendship and goodwill amongst the two countries.
Both the teams had reason to cheer. India won the first game 1-0 on August 17, while Pakistan won the second 2-0 on August 20. The matches were played in an excellent spirit in India. AIFA President Praful Patel said that it was historic that for the first time the Under-23 football teams of Pakistan and India have played a two-match series.
“I am sure such a momentous occasion will go a long way in promoting friendship and goodwill amongst the two countries,” he said. The series was very competitive and exciting, he said, and hopes this was the beginning of many such matches which would help improving the sport as well as foster healthy relationship between the two countries.
The match which featured the ‘handshake for peace’ was played at the Football Stadium in Bangalore on a football turf provided by FIFA as part of the initiative 'Win in India with India.' This ‘handshake for peace’ is a joint campaign by the FIFA and the Nobel Peace Centre of Norway that combines the global reach of football with the simple gesture of a handshake to promote peace and fair play.
Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) President Faisal Saleh Hayat said that Pakistan versus India in any form of the game has been a source of great inspiration for both the nations. “If we analyse the current football series, we can conclude that this is significantly vital because of its impact on the development of football in Pakistan and India due to a tradition of competitiveness,” he said.
The PFF president also said that this friendly series also carries an opportunity for both the teams to prepare themselves for the upcoming 2014 Asian Games. "At the same time, the social aspect of this particular activity cannot be ignored as both the nations shall definitely come closer and enhance their relations," he said.