National Team camp from 10 November

KARACHI: National footballers will assemble in Lahore on November 10 for a brief camp ahead of their international friendly against Singapore which will be held on November 19 in Singapore. The Green-shirts will play a match against Singapore’s Under-23 team on November 16. The departure schedule is not yet known.

A top official of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) confirmed the tour. “Yes, Pakistan will play two matches in Singapore: one against their Under-23 team on November 16 and the other key game against their national team on November 19,” said PFF Director Development and Competitions Pervez Saeed Mir.

The next month’s tour will help the country start preparation for the next year’s assignments, particularly the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers in March-April.

Pakistan missed a few international friendlies during the last three months despite concerted efforts by the PFF.

Pakistan coach Zavisa Milosavljevic said the next month would be very good for Pakistan as they had got a couple of matches for the senior team against Singapore.

However, he was quick to add that the country needs more international exposure. “The team need a lot of exposure as without it forming a solid combination for international competitions is not possible,” said the Serbian, whose services were hired by the PFF on November 5 last year for a period of two years. Zavisa also confirmed the plan to hold a camp from November 10 for which around 25 players, including those living abroad, would be invited. He said the list would be unveiled after Eid.

He revealed that Denmark-based defender Nabil Aslam, who plays for AC Horsens, a Danish Superliga team, would not be available for the game as he had to play some key matches for his club, which was unwilling to relieve him for Pakistan duty.

Zavisa said the England-based defender Atif Bashir had been nursing a knee injury and he would let Pakistan know about his availability by October 25 after taking advice from his doctor.

“Apart from the two, England-based defender Zesh Rehman, left-back Shabir Khan, midfielder Adnan Ahmed, Denmark-based keeper Yousuf Butt and strikers Mohammad Ali and Hasan Bashir have confirmed their availability and we are hopeful that they will spare time for Pakistan duty,” the coach said.

The coach said that in Singapore there was no grassy pitch and mostly the football matches were played there on artificial turfs.

“But I feel that our players will not face any problem while playing on artificial pitches,” Zavisa said. The coach said he was satisfied with the current form of the country’s key youngsters. “Kaleemullah has been scoring goals and Adil is also very impressive. A striker from Muslim FC Saeed Ahmed also looks good,” Zavisa said.

He voted for the country’s top keeper Jaffar Khan for the tour. “I think Jaffar is our main choice for keeping as he looks fit and has been performing well in the Premier League,” the coach said.

Pakistan senior team have not played any international game since the SAFF Championship in New Delhi in December last year.

by Alam Zeb Safi [The News]