KRL begin AFC President’s Cup preparations

by Alam Zeb Safi
The News, 23 July 2012

KARACHI: Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) will start their preparatory campaign for the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President’s Cup final round from Tuesday (tomorrow 24 July 2012) in Rawalpindi, a top official of the Premier League champions said on Sunday, 22 July.

“As you know, we are going to feature in a very important round and for which the team need good preparation. We have invited all our players and most probably we will kick-start our preparation for the event on July 22,” KRL manager Ayaz Butt told ‘The News’ in a telephonic chat from the federal capital.

The final round, featuring six teams from emerging nations of the continent, will be hosted by Tajikistan in Dushanbe from September 24-30. The draws will be held at Tajikistan’s capital on July 31.

Two groups of three teams each will be formed and the winners of each pool will make it to the final.

Tajikistan’s Istiklol FC, defending champions Taiwan Power Company of Chinese Taipei, KRL, Dordoi Dynamo of Kyrgyzstan, Phnom Penh Crown FC of Cambodia and Al Amma’ri Youth Club of Palestine will take part in the competitions.

KRL, holding titles of Pakistan Premier League and National Football Challenge Cup, made it to the AFC President’s Cup finals from Group A along with Taiwan Power Company.

The group matches, also featuring Mongolia’s Erchim FC, were held at Lahore in last May.

Butt said that the camp would continue till the end of Ramadan without any break. “Then some of our players will join the national camp from August 25 to 31 and then the Premier League will commence from September 1,” he revealed.

“We are ready to release our players for the national team but we have already told the PFF that whenever we need our stuff they will have to provide it without any reluctance,” added Butt, under whose guidance KRL have turned out to be a real force in the national circuit.

He said that the induction of new players had been completed. He claimed all the players were mentally ready to perform in the final round.

He said that their two young players, Ahsanullah and Kaleemullah, had received injuries during Pakistan Under-22 team’s Asian Cup campaign in Saudi Arabia recently. “Ahsanullah has a rib injury while Kaleem has developed a groin injury and it will have to be seen how much they have recovered,” Butt said. Former Pakistan coach Tariq Lutfi has been serving as KRL coach. He joined the country’s top team before the Premier League last year after retiring from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).

Although the Premier League can create problems for KRL, Butt said that he had already told the PFF that their matches should be rescheduled. “At this moment we would try to avoid traveling. I hope that we will be given some concession by the authorities ahead of our assignment in Tajikistan,” he said.

Butt expects a lot from keeper Saqib Hanif in the finals in Dushanbe. “Saqib has proved himself to be a great keeper while playing for Pakistan in the Under-22 Asian Cup Qualifiers in Riyadh recently. He is also our playing keeper and I hope he will not disappoint us in the President’s Cup title campaign,” he said.

Butt wants his side to leave for Dushanbe four or five days before the event so that they might have ample practice and get acclimatised with the conditions there.