Praful Patel elected South Asia football vice president

Wednesday 13th May 2015 07:22 EDT

What price the position of Asian Football Confederation vice president? For Praful Patel, it meant ensuring more fixtures and playing opportunities for arch-rivals Pakistan. Patel was elected unopposed as the AFC VP from the seven-nation South Asia (SAFF) block in Bahrain recently after Pakistan's soccer head Faisal Saleh Hayat withdrew in the final hours.

With Pakistan, who played only two matches in 2014, knocked out of joint 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup qualifying in the first round by Yemen they faced a long spell in the international wilderness. Not any more.

"We've had an offer from the Football Association of Maldives for a tournament there," Pakistan Football Federation marketing official Sardar Naveed said after Patel was elected. "Similarly, Bangladesh Football Federation chief Kazi Salahuddin has agreed to a three-match series there in July." Naveed said they had also been assured that three Pakistan players would be involved in next season's Indian Super League, despite broken promises on that happening for the inaugural campaign last term.

There was also talk of a two-match bilateral series between the old foes, who have fought three wars and endure an uneasy truce, starting in early next year. India, dubbed the "sleeping giant" of world football by FIFA president Sepp Blatter, also only played two internationals in 2014 but Patel has the benefit of guaranteed matches and television rights money in the offing after his side beat Nepal to make the second round of the dual qualifying tournament.

They have been drawn in group D alongside Iran, Oman, Turkmenistan and Guam with the prospect of further games thereafter with the new revamped qualifying process introduced by the AFC.

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