PFF ‘desperately’ tries to line up Nepal tour

KARACHI: The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is desperately trying to arrange for its national team a short tour to Nepal in order to prepare for the World Cup 2014 qualifiers against Bangladesh.

“We have written to the Nepal Football Association for the purpose and are waiting for their reply,” the PFF secretary Col Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi told ‘The News’ on Friday.

“We want to play two or three matches with them. If we are able to send the team by June 18 to Kathmandu then three matches will be held but in case it is sent by June 20 then two warm-up matches will be made possible,” Lodhi said.

He said that visa is not a problem as the Pakistani team will get it on arrival in Nepal. Pakistan will play their away leg of the World Cup qualifiers against Bangladesh in Dhaka on June 29 while the second leg will be held in Lahore on July 3. Both the matches will be conducted under floodlights. Nepal will host East Timor in the qualifiers to be held at the Dashrat Stadium in Kathmandu also on June 29 and July 3.

Before writing to Nepal, the PFF contacted football governing bodies in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar for a tour but it could not be made possible.

Meanwhile, Pakistan team’s camp was shifted from Lahore to Islamabad on Friday and the team will resume its training at the Jinnah Stadium in the federal capital from Saturday morning (today).

Currently 23 probables are in the camp. WAPDA midfielder and former Pakistan vice-captain Imran Niazi and Army defender Mudassir have been dropped because of injury while PIA goalie Bilal Rafique and WAPDA’s Rana Fakhar Hayat have been dropped after they failed to impress the coach with their potential, a team official said.

The official said that foreign-based players including defenders Zeeshan Rehamn and Atif Bashir Qureshi and midfielder Adnan Farooq Ahmed will also join the in few days. However, if Pakistan’s tour to Nepal is arranged then it may be possible that these players join the squad in Kathmandu. The official said that England-based midfielder Shabbir Khan will not be able to represent the country in the qualifiers because of injury.

An 18-member team, which will play in the qualifiers against Bangladesh, will be announced soon, the official said.

During stay in Islamabad, Pakistan will play their practice game against Islamabad XI on Sunday (tomorrow) while they will meet Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) on June 13, 16 and 22 while a match against the Combined XI of the Rawalpindi-based teams preparing for the Premier League is also expected.