WAPDA stars off to two-month Nepal loan stint

From our correspondent

WAPDA FC stars in Naveed Akram and Mahmood Ali have signed two-month loan contracts with Saraswoti Youth Club (SYC) of  Nepal for the 2011 Nepal Martyr’s Memorial A-Division League campaign that is already under swing across the football-mad Himalayan nation. The loan periods began mid-May and ends in mid-July 2011, which coincides with the final two months of the 3 month long Nepal A-Division League season, with top 8 teams from the 18 participants will then play in Nepal National League 2011.

Midfield maestro Mahmood Ali from Quetta and dynamic fullback Naveed Akram from Multan have become the first two Pakistanis in nearly 4 decades to accept offers to play in foreign leagues, and have expressed their desire to make all Pakistani football fans proud by giving their best in Nepal. The last few Pakistani footballers who managed to play abroad were the likes of Ali Nawaz Baloch and ex-PIA and national team captain Ghulam Sarwar who played in the leagues of UAE and other Arab countries in the Persian Gulf during their upstart years in early 1970s.

Speaking to FPDC before the flight to Kathmandu from Karachi via Gulf Air this morning (17 May 2011), Naveed Akram stated that this is an honour for him and Mahmood to be given the chance to play in a foreign league to really see how international club football is. He said that it was his dream as a footballer to play outside Pakistan and is thankful to SYC and the people at both Biba Sports and Marketing and FootballPakistan.Com (FPDC) for helping both of them to avail this golden opportunity.

Both Mahmood Ali and Naveed Akram have been part of WAPDA’s domestic title winning squads for last few years, with Naveed Akram being famous for bursting onto the international scene for the Pakistan national team back in 2006 with spectacular goals against UAE (AFC Asian Cup qualifiers) and Japan (Doha Asian Games 2006) under the coaching of Bahrain’s Salman Ahmed Sharida.

During WAPDA’s disappointing 2011 AFC President’s Cup campaign in Nepal back in late April, both players alongside WAPDA spearhead Arif Mehmood impressed Nepalese football scouts from Biba Sports and Marketing to offer them loan contracts to help boost their league campaigns.

Arif Mehmood unfortunately could not be available due to national team camp call-up, but Naveed and Mahmood had no such commitments with either WAPDA because of the close season or with the national team. This helped finalise their deals with Saraswoti YC.

The two WAPDA starters managed to complete all required NOCs (No Objection Certificates) from WAPDA Sports Board and the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF), as well as contract signing for registration with All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) and are hopeful to be eligible to make their debut in SYC’s next game against rivals Brigade Boys Club.

Saraswoti YC won promotion to 2011 Nepal A-League season by winning the 2010 NFA Nepal Martyr’s Memorial B-Division League and have an ambitious plan to establish themselves as a top-division force across Nepal.

We at FPDC wish both Naveed Akram and Mahmood Ali the best in their Nepalese sojourn and hope they show their worth and win the hearts of Nepalese football lovers.

Such an opportunity can hopefully give a route for many Pakistani footballers to play abroad in foreign leagues in the coming years.

Naveed Akram and Mahmood Ali with Saraswoti YC officials at airport after arrival (GoalNepal.com)

More details to follow.