By Imran Ali Teepu [Dawn]
ISLAMABAD, Nov 4: Atif Bashir, Sahni Qayum, and Faraz Ahmed — the three British-born Pakistani football players who are part of the national squad for the coming Asian Games — pledge they with other players of the team can produce positive results in the continental extravaganza.
“We are playing at semi-professional level in the English football league,” Faraz, 23, who hails from Nottingham county, told Dawn on Thursday while giving the background of his compatriots.
The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) has announced a 20-member squad for the Asian Games to be held under the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) in Guangzhou, China from Nov 12-27.
“It`s great to be with the Pakistan team and wearing Pakistan colours,” Faraz remarked, when asked about the feeling he had for representing Pakistan. “I was born and raised in Britain but no doubt Pakistan is my homeland too. Definitely, we will [try to] produce a better show at the upcoming [Asian Games] event, Insha Allah.”
The national squad has been undergoing strenuous training under British coaching consultant Graham Roberts who is working alongside Pakistan`s head coach Akhtar Mohiuddin.
“We have some good fellow players who can combine with us to bring positive results on the field,” said Faraz, after concluding his training at the Jinnah Stadium here on Thursday.
Asked whether Pakistan would be able to feature in the FIFA World Cup in the next few years, Faraz responded: “I hope so, if we keep on playing at the international level and continue to train youngsters. However, in order to do this you need time and investment.”
Faraz was accompanied by 17-year-old Sahni Qayum from Leeds.
“I am from Rawalpindi and can speak a few Urdu words,” he quipped. “We will be playing [in the Asian Games] and hope to secure a better place,” he asserted.
Atif Bashir 25, hailing from Cardiff, is also accompanying the squad.
Meanwhile, Roberts expects his team to impress in the Games.“Our focus is on the Asian Games and we will win two to three matches,” Roberts said.
“Let us be there first. I am optimistic that Pakistan players, who are talented, can beat Thailand despite the fact they are rated better in international rankings,” he added.
The coach expressed that he would introduce one of the national players in the English football league. “I think that player has the talent,” he said, without revealing the name of the player.
Roberts hopes with proper management Pakistan football can have a better future.
“If priority is given to the development of football in Pakistan, specifically at the grass-roots level, hopefully the country can appear on the global football map in few years` time,” he said.