The opening match of the SAFF Championship tournament between Pakistan and Bangladesh ended in a drab, goalless draw, in Delhi, on Friday.
The Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, hosting a football match after a gap of 20 years, wore a deserted look as the two South Asian nations failed to liven up proceedings.
Enjoying the bulk of possession initially, Pakistan came close to scoring in the 24th minute after Jadeed Pathan Khan crossed from the right side, but Faisal Iqbal fumbled and failed to tap the ball into an open net.
Bangladesh goalkeeper Sahidul Alam was nowhere to be seen. The easy miss had an impact on the Pakistan team as Bangladesh gradually started to find their bearings, often creating moves which though never materialised in a goal.
Meanwhile, worried about the low turn-out for the championship Sports
Minister Ajay Maken asked the All India Football Federation (AIFF) to make entry free for school students and parents.
The stadium, hosting a football match after a gap of 20 years, wore a deserted look.
"We have asked the AIFF to provide complimentary passes to school kids and even parents will be allowed free entry. They will have to show their identity cards at gate number 14, which has been thrown open for them," Maken said, after inaugurating the championship.
"We have asked Satpal, who is the director of our school division, to work on this," he added.
The empty stands at the stadium, which was packed to rafters during the opening and closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games last year, was bad advertisement for football, a sport struggling to get a foothold in the country.