Pakistan eye Asian U22 Cup qualifiers

Thursday, May 24, 2012

From: The News

KARACHI: After a few days of rest following their tour of Thailand and Palestine, national footballers will re-assemble in Lahore on Saturday to start their final preparatory phase ahead of the Under-22 Asian Cup Qualifiers Group B to be held in Saudi Arabia from June 23 to July 3.

“Yes, the players will report for the camp on Saturday and the training will start on Sunday,” Pakistan’s Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic told ‘The News’ from Lahore on Wednesday.

He disclosed that apart from the players who are part of the regular team, 14 new players, who had been shortlisted during the National Under-22 Championship in Bahawalpur, have also been invited for the camp. Zavisa said that the fresh faces will have to pass through trials and it would be looked whether any one could meet the selection criteria.

Zavisa said that the final 23-member team will be finalised by June 6.

It is also expected that Pakistan will undergo a foreign tour ahead of their departure for Saudi Arabia.

“We are trying to negotiate with Bahrain, Qatar and Jordon and hopefully we will be able to arrange a two-week training tour for our side which will help them come into top shape before the vital assignment in Saudi Arabia,” PFF Director Development and Competitions, Pervez Saeed Mir, told this correspondent.

He said that Pakistan will need at least three or four more practice matches before their tough assignment.

PFF secretary Ahmad Yar Lodhi is in Hungary these days and he will negotiate with some Gulf countries about Pakistan’s tour.

In the Qualifiers, Pakistan have been placed in Group B with the hosts Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sri Lanka, Palestine and Kyrgyzstan.

Pakistan will play their first match against Saudi Arabia on June 23, followed by their games against Sri Lanka on June 25, Kyrgyzstan on June 28, Syria on June30 and Palestine on July 3.

The coach is confident that he would be able to build a fighting squad for the qualifiers.

“The boys have already made a great improvement during the last few weeks and if we are able to keep our preparation with the same pace then I am hopeful that the team would be in top form when it will field in the qualifiers,” said the 52-year old coach.

He said that no foreign-based player is under consideration, saying, France-based Malik Mohammad Humman is busy in examination and he is not in any contact with the management.