Alam Zeb Safi [The News]
KARACHI: It seems to be a perfect chance for Hassan Bashir, who plays in Denmark’s third-tier football league, to make his international debut for Pakistan in the much-awaited series against India in England next month as the striker has impressed coach Tariq Lutfi with his abilities on the very first day of the national training camp in Lahore on Saturday night.
“Hassan Bashir has impressed me a lot. He is an intelligent boy and the most important thing about him is that he appears to be very disciplined and committed,” Lutfi told ‘The News’ on Sunday from Lahore during a telephonic chat.
“We tested him on the first day in frontline and his running and final passes were very good,” said Lutfi, who has been serving as Pakistan’s coach since January 15 this year. “I think, he would be a welcome addition to the frontline of the national team.”
Lutfi has also been impressed by Hassan’s mannerism off the field.
“Hassan is a well-mannered boy which is also a positive thing in him and very appealing,” Lutfi said.
Hassan is a Denmark national of Pakistani origin and has opted to play for Pakistan despite tough rules of nationality of Denmark. Hassan plays for the Danish second division club Svebˆlle BI. The 2nd Division is the third-tier Danish football league, just after the 1st Division while the Danish Superliga is on the top of the list.
Hassan Bashir’s inclusion will further strengthen Pakistan team which will also have the services of England-based midfielder Adnan Ahmad, left full-back Shabbir Khan and defender Atif Bashir.
Both Atif and Adnan had played with great dedication in the AFC Challenge Cup qualifiers in Kuala Lumpur and then in the World Cup Qualifiers against Bangladesh. Shabbir has also played for Pakistan earlier and if he remains fit he will certainly be a part of playing XI.
Another Denmark-based goalkeeper Yousuf Butt, who was tested by Pakistan in the Olympic qualifiers against Malaysia, is also scheduled to join the national team in England along with striker Mohammad Ali. Nabil Aslam, also a Denmark-based defender, is trying to play for Pakistan and was in line for the UK series against India but he had to stay out of it due to his torn ligament.
Pakistan will face India in their first game of the two-match series on September 3 at Pride Park, Derby, followed by their final game on September 9 in Glasgow.
The Greenshirts are also likely to play two practice games against local clubs on the tour being held for the first time on neutral venue.
Meanwhile, UK-based midfielder Irfan Khan, who had represented Pakistan in the AFC Under19 Championship qualifiers in 2007, did not impress Lutfi very much, particularly with his commitment.
“Irfan has very good touches but he lacks in commitment which is vital for playing in a national team,” Lutfi pointed out.
“I have also told him and the other foreign-based players that what I want along with skills and fitness is the commitment which is the key for representing a country,” he said.
Foreign-based midfielder Fahad Rizvi and Zubair Ahmed also failed to impress the coach with their abilities but they would be keenly watched in the next few days.
Lutfi said that he was happy with the attitude of the players who all attended the camp on the first day (Saturday).
“All the twenty players were present in the first warm-up session before Iftar on Saturday despite fasting which shows how keen they are to avail of the great opportunity of touring England and to play against India,” he said.
“After Iftar we had one and a half hour training session in the night. What I feel now that all the players are physically fit and we will be working over some important areas in the coming days and hopefully a good unit would be prepared for the series,” he said.
Pakistan, currently preparing at the Punjab Stadium in Lahore, will fly out for England on August 29.