Omar Malik may debut for Pakistan

KARACHI: Foreign-based footballers of Pakistani origin continue to take interest in joining Pakistan team and defender Omar Malik is expected to make his debut for Pakistan during the international friendly against Singapore next month.

“Yes, Omar Malik is also interested to represent Pakistan and he is one of the foreign-based players who will be available for the Pakistan duty when they will face Singapore next month,” Pakistan football team coach Zavisa Milosavljevic told ‘The News’ on Tuesday.

Omar Malik (FK Tønsberg)

Malik plays for the Norwegian Second Division League team FK Tonsberg. The team played in the Norway’s top league for a year before it got relegated.

Although Zavisa has not seen Malik playing, he said that he would watch him in Singapore. “The Singapore tour will help me watch Malik,” said Zavisa.

He also confirmed that star defender Zeeshan Rehman, who plays for Hong Kong club Kitchee, England-based Adnan Ahmad and Shabir Khan will come directly to Singapore to join the team.

It is yet to be decided whether Denmark-based Yousuf Butt, Hasan Bashir, Mohammad Ali and Norway-based Omar Malik will come to Pakistan to attend the camp or they will join the team in Singapore.

However, he made it clear that their league matches for their respective clubs will conclude on November 6 and they will be available for the national duty.

Danish striker Mohammad Ali will also make his debut in Singapore and so is the case with Hasan Bashir. Striker Hasan from Denmark failed to make his debut last year when Pakistan’s series with India in England was cancelled at the last moment after the organisers failed to get the required sponsorship. Denmark-based keeper Yousuf Butt, Shabbir Khan, Adnan Ahmad and Zeeshan Rehman have already played for Pakistan.

Shabir, who was last year playing for Stourport Swifts FC, is a fine left-back at his home side Worcester City FC and his return to Pakistan after three years will be very beneficial for the country needing a few wins in international circuit to improve ranking.

Britain-born Zesh is a highly professional player, currently playing in Hong Kong, and he will have to make some sacrifice for the Pakistan team if he wants to play for the nation.

He left Pakistan team in the lurch last year, refusing to come to Pakistan for the second leg game of the World Cup Qualifiers against Bangladesh in Lahore, citing security reasons, when Pakistan needed him following their loss in the first leg in Dhaka under heavy rain. Zesh was part of that game which Pakistan lost 0-3.

Pakistan will play Singapore in an international friendly on November 19 in Singapore. Before that, the Greenshirts will lock horns with the hosts’ Under-23 team on November 16. Zavisa said England-based Atif Bashir was not available for the Singapore tour as he was yet to recover from his knee injury. Berlin-born Atif is a committed player and he along with England-based Adnan Ahmed has been regularly playing for Pakistan for the last few years.

Danish Superliga defender Nabil Aslam was also looking to make debut for Pakistan during the Singapore tour but his club AC Horsens did not release him due to league commitments.

It would be interesting to see when these seven foreign-based players join Pakistan ahead of the games against Singapore. Pakistan team camp will be held in Lahore on November 10 for the scheduled tour.

Source: Alam Zeb Safi [The News]