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Soccer to kick off Indo-Pak sports ties


The revival in sporting links between India and Pakistan will kick off in South Africa next month with a two-match football series, an official said Monday. Pakistan Football Federation secretary Agha Liaquat Ali said the matches would be held at Durban on May 12 and 17. The fixtures are the first major sporting encounter between India and Pakistan since they clashed in the President Gold Cup hockey final in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in March last year. "We had hopes that football will break the ice since the sponsors were keen to arrange a football series and, since there are many Pakistani and Indian expats in Durban, the matches will attract large crowds," Ali said. India cut off sporting relations with Pakistan in 1999 but took a step towards restoring ties when it sent its Olympic Association President Suresh Kalmadi to Islamabad for discussions last month. Cricket has been badly hit with the two countries not meeting on a cricket field since an Asian Cup league game in Dhaka almost two years ago. However, Pakistan's Under-19 team beat India in the ICC Junior World Cup in New Zealand in February this year. India stunned the United Arab Emirates 1-0 in a football World Cup qualifying match. The Indians finished third in Group Eight and failed to qualify for this summer's tournament.




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