Denmark-based goalie included in Pak team

KARACHI: Denmark-based goalkeeper Yousuf Butt has been included in the Pakistan football team for the tour of Thailand and the Olympic qualifiers against Malaysia.

The team will depart on Sunday (tomorrow) for a two-week tour of Thailand where they will play four practice matches before facing Malaysia in the away leg of the first round of the Olympic qualifiers on February 23 in Kuala Lumpur.

“Yousuf Butt is a gutsy goalkeeper and has been included in the squad,” head coach Tariq Lutfi confirmed it to ‘The News’ on Friday.

The other goalkeepers in the team are international Aamir Gul and Mohammad Umar. The head coach has finalised the 20-man squad for the coming tours but it is more likely that the president of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) will announce it on Sunday (tomorrow) during a press briefing after meeting with the players as the team is also scheduled to fly out for Bangkok in the evening on the same day.

“Yousuf Butt is a tall, balanced goalie and it’s a welcome addition to the Pakistan squad,” Lutfi said.

Yousuf was also in line for the Pakistan team for the last year’s Asian Games but was not included after he failed to send his documents to the PFF in time.

“We will use all the three goalkeepers in Thailand and then the best of them will be given the chance to act as main goalie in the qualifiers against Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur,” the coach said. Pakistan will host Malaysia in the home leg on March 9 at Lahore. Before the second leg, Palestine will tour Pakistan and will play two matches against the hosts at Lahore on March 1 and here at Karachi on March 4.

Lutfi is brooding over the option to inject few senior players into the Pakistan Olympic squad for the series against Palestine.

“We will see how these youngsters perform against Malaysia. But we cannot rule out the chances of the inclusion of the senior players in the squad for the matches against Palestine,” the coach said.