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Emotions, queues grow for Maldives India clash in SAFF Championship

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Emotions and queues for tickets have grown exponentially in anticipation on Wednesday’s SAFF Championship match between host Maldives and India.

Queues had formed late on Monday evening, in spite of Football Association of Maldives (FAM) assurances that tickets would be available. FAM, so far, has said that 3000 tickets would be made available for local supporters and 200 for visitors.

Maldives needs a mere equalizer to get to the finals, as the team easily rests on the second place with six points. Table leader Nepal also has six points but claimed first place as the matches are being played on a head-to-head basis.

Team Maldives had a rocky start to the tournament – getting beaten by Nepal on day one. Return back to winning ways came at the expense of the visiting Bangladeshi team. Hamza Mohamed’s stunner at 55 minutes, heralded as the goal of the tournament, marked a moment of unbridled joy. Veteran Ali Ashfaq’s penalty in the 74th minute cemented it. Ashfaq’s sixth minute goal in the next match against Sri Lanka, secured the comfortable spot on the table.

Team India is struggling in the tournament so far. The team has managed to net a single win and two draws. Veteran Sunil Chhetri came to India’s aid in the sole win against Nepal. India drew against Sri Lanka with no goals to speak for. The match against Bangladesh also was a draw, though Sunil Chhetri once again gave a goal to the team.

The match will begin at 9pm in the National Stadium.

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MPS still under Home Minister: PO

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President’s Office on Tuesday stated that though Maldives Police Service (MPS) is now operating as an independent entity, the Home Minister is still the responsible figure for the agency.

Following the ratification and implementing of MPS Act, MPS would function as an independent entity, with various internal governing bodies. The Home Minister will be responsible for overseeing the body but will have no control over day to day operations.

Confusion reigned supreme following a letter sent by President’s Office to the Home Affairs, stating that MPS would function as an independent entity effective from March 27, 2021. The letter also stated the Ministry’s functions and roles following this decision.

Clause 242 of the Constitution mandates that all government and government associated agencies be overseen by a Minister.

The statement issued by President’s Office said that Home Minister Sheikh Imran would still oversee the agency.

In response to the change, Minister Imran tweeted that ‘challenges’ were natural and expected. He added that success was in perseverance.

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Tourism Ministry sets three-year period for resorts to open

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Minister of Tourism Dr Abdullah Mausoom has revealed that the Ministry intends to automatically revoke the islands leased for resort development, if the developers fail to open the property within a three-year period.

Speaking to local newspaper, Mihaaru, the Minister revealed that this was already in the plans and a new agreement will be signed based on this principle.

Statistics by Tourism Ministry in 2020, show that over 50 resorts were still under development, with parties filing to extend the permits for 21 islands. Some of the leased islands have been listed as under development for over 10 years.

This, he said, was being implemented to urge developers to finish developing the property and begin operations. Minister Mausoom noted that most citizens living close to islands under development had raised their concerns over delays.

The Minister had previously said that Tourism sustained severe losses due to the pandemic. While the sector aims to bring in 1.3 million tourists, there are several challenges including a new mutation of the delta strain detected in the UK and limitations of the airport to cater for arrivals.

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U23 national team departs for Bahrain

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The under 23 national football team has departed to Bahrain for training ahead of AFC Asian Cup qualifiers.

The qualifiers will be held in Uzbekistan from the 27th to the 31st of this month.

The team is accompanied by Assistant Coaches Sabah Mohamed and Mohamed Shahid. They will play two practice matches in Bahrain before heading to straight to qualifiers in Uzbekistan. The team had also carried out successful training camps in the atolls.

Maldives will face off against Iraq on 27th October, against Bahrain on 29th October, and Afghanistan on 31st October.

Competing nations are divided into 11 groups. First place winners will go into the Asian Cup. Additionally, four top-performing teams from the second placed nations will proceed to the Cup.

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