Adnan set to lead Pakistan in India series

Alam Zeb Safi [The News]

KARACHI: Britain-based midfielder Adnan Ahmed is likely to be handed the captain’s armband for Pakistan’s forthcoming two-match football series against arch-rivals India in England next month.

‘The News’ learnt through well-placed sources on Tuesday that since former Pakistan captain and goalkeepr Jaffar Khan was ignored for the England tour along with a bunch of other home-grown seniors, there was no one in the remaining Pakistan-based lot experienced enough to lead the country during the series.

Sources said that the team management has given the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) the names of the 27-year-old Adnan Ahmed, Britain-based defender Atif Bashir, Pakistan vice-captain Faisal Iqbal and defender Mohammad Haji for the slot of captaincy and vice-captaincy.

But sources added that the coach has thrown weight behind Adnan for the slot of captaincy as the veteran midfielder is cool-headed and very polished. He also knows English conditions and would be able to lead the side effectively.

England-based star defender Zeeshan would have been an automatic choice for captaincy for the England tour if he had not pulled himself out of the series.

Adnan, if named as captain, would be the first foreign-based captain of Pakistan who seem to rope in more off-shore footballers to strengthen their squad.

For the position of vice-captain, midfielder Faisal Iqbal is likely to be retained.

Adnan made his debut in the first-leg of the FIFA World Cup 2010 qualifiers when Pakistan had suffered a 0-7 loss at the hands of the then Asian champions Iraq on October22, 2007 in Lahore. However, Pakistan held Iraq in the second leg to a goalless draw in Aleppo, Syria on October 28. Adnan scored his first goal for Pakistan in a humiliating 7-1 defeat against Sri Lanka in 2008 AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers.

Since then he has been a regular part of the Pakistan team. He had missed a penalty in Pakistan’s 0-1 loss in the SAFF Cup in 2009 in Dhaka which forced Pakistan bow out of the last-four.

After missing last year’s Asian Games in China, Adnan returned to the squad for the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers in Kuala Lumpur few months back and impressed a lot the team management with his ability as a player. His performance in the World Cup qualifiers against Bangladesh was also laudable.

Starting his career at Huddersfield Town in 2004, he transferred to Tranmere Rovers after a three-year stint. With a two-year spell with Tranmere Rovers which also included loans to Mansfield Town and Port Vale, he signed Hungarian club Ferencvaros in 2009. A year later he moved to Iran for a brief stint with Aboomoslem FC.

Pakistan are scheduled to leave for England on August27. On September3 they will face India in their opener at the Pride Park, Derby, followed by their second and final game in Glasgow on September9.

‘The News’ also learnt that Britain-based midfielder Irfan Khan and other foreign-based full-backs Zubair Ahmed and Fahad Rizvi will be ignored for the series. However, Denmark-based forward Mohammad Ali, who will join the team in England, will be given a chance to make his international debut.