Bradford’s Irfan Khan joins Pakistan football Camp for Olympic qualifiers

Lahore, 27 Jan : Pakistan Youth International Irfan Khan reported to coach Tariq Lutfi in selection-trial-cum-coaching camp which is in full swing at the famous Model Town Football Academy, located at Model Town C & D Block, Lahore for ensuing Thailand Training Camp and two-legged qualifiers against Malaysia for London Olympics. Irfan is midfielder of Bradford Park Avenue Association Football Club which is nowadays eleventh behind leader Halifax Town, Colwyn Bay and Matlock Town in 22-club Northern Premier League Premier Division, often referred to as Evo-Stik League Premier Division for sponsorship deal.

Irfan Khan represented Pakistan U19 team in 35th AFC U19 Championship at Paas Stadium, Tehran 2007 alongwith other four overseas players of Pakistan origin Usman Hussain, Umar Farooq Javed, Khurram Shahzad and Haroon Ishaq.

“While they are British citizens, the players are eligible to line up for Pakistan because of their family heritage. Bradford Park Avenue AFC have provided another footballer for us after Amjad Iqbal (now of Farsley AFC) who played superbly in scoreless draw against Iraq in Asian Phase Qualifiers of 19th World Cup Soccer at Syrian capital of Damascus ‘s Abbasiyyin Stadium on 28 October 2007,” added Tariq.

Pakistan soccer has become a source of interest for foreign players due to faboulous football uplift work of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF)’s President Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat and for this very reason overseas players are donning the colors of Pakistan football teams regularly.

Incidentally, Tariq was also the coach when first foreigner Usman Gondal (Leicester) landed on Pakistan, making international debut on 12 June 2005 as 72nd minute substitute for Abdul Aziz in the first NBP Test Match of Pakistan-India Series at Quetta’s Ayub Stadium.

The year 2007 saw Irfan wearing color of Lahore’s Model Town Football Club (MTFC) and he propelled them into last four of 19th National U18 Soccer Championship 2007 at MTFC Ground scoring two scorching goals in 2-1 quarter final win over Faisalabad’s Punjab Medical College (now known as PMC Athletico Club).

Irfan Khan had been called up by PFF in that year 2007 after he was scouted during Rotherham tryouts, arranged under PFF Director Marketing Sardar Naveed Haider Khan. He caught the eye of selectors in the two-day trials, held to select budding players of Pakistan origin on 28-29 July 2007 at South Yorkshire, a metropolitan county of England. Herringthorpe Playing Fields – largest public open space in Rotherham, providing a major facility for team games- was venue for trials with 100-plus players of various age-limits turned up who were interested in wearing national soccer color of Pakistan in future.

Irfan failed to get the nod of Akhtar Mohiuddin during 16th Asian Games Soccer tourney last year as Chaman-born coach selected three expatriates Atif Bashir (Barry Town), Shani Qayum (Sheffield Wednesday Youth) and Faraz Ahmed (Nottingham) in the 20-player roster for the Guanghzou assignment.

Shipley College Sports student Irfan Khan is currently in the second year of his BTEC National Diploma in Sport. He also plays football locally in Thackley and is on the Shipley College team at Exhibition Road, Saltaire.“I am very honoured and pleased to be selected for Pakistan U19 squad four years ago. My family and friends are very proud of me and looking forward to watching me on screens in future for Pakistan outfits,” said Irfan currently on top of his studies and is also attending the college residential to Lanzarote team.

He also thanked his tutor Lucy Parry who designed a time table to ensure he kept up with his studies and that when he returned to Saltaire he had the support necessary to complete the course.