PFF plan Thai trip before SAFF Cup

[by Alam Zeb Safi, The News]

KARACHI: In a bid to prepare for the SAFF Championship, Pakistan football team will tour Thailand in the last week of next month.

“Pakistan’s tour to Thailand has almost been finalised as we have got a green signal from them and the schedule will also be made final within a couple of days,” secretary of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Col Ahmad Yar Lodhi told ‘The News’ on Monday.

“We have proposed that the tour should be made from November 22 to 29 and are waiting for their response,” Lodhi said.

“If such a schedule is followed then the team may be sent directly from Thailand to New Delhi,” the official said.

“Pakistan will play three matches on the tour of Thailand. Efforts would be made to arrange matches for our team against strong teams of Thailand including their national team if it is possible,” Lodhi remarked.

Meanwhile, coach Tariq Lutfi told this correspondent that he will give his input about the camp’s schedule to the PFF in a couple of days. “I have requested for some time and will give my input to the PFF in a couple of days,” he said.
However, he said that he would like to start the camp soon after Eid-ul-Azha. “Almost all the players who are being called for the camp are engaged in the Premier League. Their physical condition is good but some of them have injuries and I would like to give them three or four days during Eid for recovery and some rest,” Lutfi revealed.

“Currently, a long camp is not suitable as the players are already under severe stress due to the ongoing league,” the coach said.

He also termed Pakistan’s tour to Thailand as a good step ahead of the Delhi assignment.

“It would be very good if the team will get a tour of Thailand. I would also tell the PFF that they should arrange our matches against some tough teams on the tour which will help us prepare better,” Lutfi added.

About foreign-based players he said, that he has not yet made any correspondence with them.

“I am not in touch with them and plan to inform them through email in a day or two,” he said. “If we are to begin the camp after Eid-ul-Azha, then foreign-based players will also have to join the camp till November 13 or 14.”

About his support staff, Lutfi said that presently there is no change in it and if there is any then it will be disclosed.

Nasir Ismail and Gohar Zaman will serve as assistant coaches while Aslam Khan will be acting as a goalkeeping coach.