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Help Afghan coach Latif dares Pakistan for a re-match of Asiad

Karachi: Afghanistan coach Rashid Latif is a furious man after allegations were levelled that the Twenty20 match between Pakistan and his wards in the Guangzhou Asian Games was fixed and has openly challenged for a re-match.

Latif, a former Pakistan captain but now coach of the Afghanistan cricket team, said his boys victory over the their much-fancied opponent in the semi-finals of the T20 cricket competition in last month's Asian Games was not a fluke.

"My challenge is we will beat the same Pakistan team again. All this talk about the match being fixed is degrading the hardwork of the Afghani players," Latif said.

Since Pakistan lost at the hands of newcomers Afghanistan in the last four of the Asian Games there has been speculation in the Pakistan media that the match was fixed.

The President of a cricket club whose players were in the national team that lost to Afghanistan has also written to the cricket board (PCB) to investigate the match.

Allegations have been raised that since Rashid was coach of the Afghanistan team he got his clubmate,Pakistan captain Khalid Latif and some other players to play slowly in the T20 match.

"Nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone can say what they like. I can only say I challenge them for a rematch at any venue and I know for certain we will beat them again by a bigger margin this time," Latif said.

He said the Afghanistan team could even pose a hard time to the Pakistani national team as they play with lot of passion and pride on the ground.

"Something that is lacking in this Pakistan team right now," he stated.

The PCB has said it is studying the report of the manager and coach of the team that played in the Asian Games.

Latif also dismissed suggestions made by former greats, including Imran Khan and Arjuna Ranatunga that former players can help the International Cricket Council identify incidents of spot-fixing in international matches.

"I don't know why they are saying this after so many years. The fact is that when they played this menace of match fixing had started but at that time they didn't do anything and instead supported the players responsible for it. If they had done something then things would have been different now.

"I don't agree with them about former players being able to spot fixing incidents in matches. I think this menace is very difficult to stop now. It can only be stopped if the players themselves realise how much damage it is doing to the game," he said.

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