‘Postponement of Indo-Pak football series was shocking’

Alam Zeb Safi [The News]

KARACHI: Denmark-based striker Hassan Bashir said on Sunday that he was really excited to make his international debut for Pakistan against India but the postponement of the two-match football series in England at the eleventh hour left him disappointed.

“I and my whole family were excited that I will be making my international debut for Pakistan against India. India is a special opponent of Pakistan whether it is in cricket, football or any other game. But what happened at the last minute was really shocking,” the 24-year told ‘The News’ in an exclusive telephonic interview.

Hassan, who is currently representing Svebˆlle BI — a Danish third-tier club — also played one match in the Danish Superliga when he was just 19 years old. Then he was roped in by a club in the First Division and his performance there too remained remarkable, but a groin injury forced him to stay away from the game for a year before joining a club in the Second Division.

“Every player was excited that they would go to England for the series and would beat India there. The expectations were high and so was the commitment,” Hassan recalled.

“It all happened just a day before our departure which is why it was very much frustrating. But I think it happens so in life,” the player said.

Now, when the England series is uncertain, his next major target is the SAFF Championship which is also vital for Pakistan.

“Yes, SAFF Championship is my next target and I am hoping to represent Pakistan in that event as I would be free from any club engagement in Denmark by the end of November and will be available,” he said.

The SAFF Championship, which Pakistan have never won, will be held in Orissa (India) from December 1-15.

Hassan said that it was not a hard decision for him to switch over to playing for Pakistan.

“It was never a hard decision for me to play for Pakistan. Pakistan is my country and will continue to play for it until I have energy to do so,” the forward said.

Hassan is trying to join any club in Asia or Middle East which will benefit him as he will be able to make his availability for any international competition with ease.

“I am trying to sign for a club in Asia, may be in Middle East. The calendar of Europe clashes with the calendar of Asia which will affect my availability for the national team. But when I will play for a club in Asia or Middle East, it would not be that difficult for me to show my availability for any international assignment,” he revealed.

He said that although the current Pakistani players lack experience they have the talent and courage to perform at the international level.

“Most of the players in Pakistan team are below 23 years of age. They are inexperienced but they have the talent and courage which I hope could flourish further,” he said.

Hassan is currently staying with his relatives in Gujrat and is scheduled to fly out for Denmark on September 1.

Hassan was included in the Pakistan’s team for the series against India after he impressed national coach Tariq Lutfi with his abilities as a forward during training sessions in Lahore few days ago.

“Hassan Bashir has impressed me a lot. He is an intelligent boy and the most important thing about him is that he looks very disciplined and committed,” Lutfi had told ‘The News’ last week.