Pakistan calls-up eight foreign players for Palestine series

KARACHI: As many as 25 players, including eight foreignbased, have been called for the short training camp ahead of the Pakistan football team’s home series against Palestine expected to be held in the middle of this month.

“Yes, we have invited 25 players, including eight foreign-based,” Pakistan football team’s Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic told ‘The News’ on Tuesday. All the players have been advised to report for the camp from 5:00pm to 7:00pm on October 9 at the FIFA Football House in Lahore.

The training will start as usual on the following day (October 10). England-based defenders Zeeshan Rehman, Shabbir Khan, midfielders Amjad Iqbal, Adnan Ahmad, Denmark- based goalkeeper Yousuf Butt, defender Nabil Aslam and strikers Hasan Bashir and Mohammad Ali are on the list.

“All the foreign-based players have been contacted and I expect all of them to join the team,” Zavisa said. However, he said that Hasan Bashir may not be considered for the series against Palestine as he is not in good form.

But he was quick to add that the boy could make it for the tour of Singapore next month. England-based defender Atif Bashir is not on the list due to injury and so is the case with Chitral-born striker Mohammad Rasool who developed a major injury during a collision with the Habib Bank keeper while playing for KESC in a Premier League match here at the Peoples Sports Complex last week.

However, the coach wants Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) to contact Danish defender Nabil Aslam. “I will request the PFF to contact Nabil Aslam and ask him if he is available for Pakistan,” added the Serbian. He said that the series against Palestine would help the team prepare better for future assignments.

“Every match adds to the confidence of the team and brings maturity in the players and I believe that such types of commitments are a must for the team’s build up,” the coach remarked. PFF secretary Col Ahmad Yar Khan Lodhi told this correspondent that Palestine are expected in the country from October 12 to 17.

He added that the schedule is to be finalised. “We are still thinking about the schedule as we not only want more crowds to watch the couple of games but also would like the series to be economical,” Lodhi revealed. He said that the venues are also yet to be finalised.

“Punjab Stadium in Lahore may be the option. We have written to the Punjab government and they will let us know tomorrow. We have also kept Karachi as one of the options and if any match is going to be played there it will be held at the KPT Stadium,” Lodhi said. “Jinnah Stadium in Islamabad is also one of the prospective venues but its chances don’t look bright,” the official said.

This will be the second tour of Palestine football team in one and a half years as early last year they played a couple of matches against Pakistan Olympic team (Under-22) at Lahore and Karachi, winning the series 1-0. October 12 and 16 are FIFA days and officials are trying to hold matches on these dates.

Camp probables: Jaffar Khan, Saqib Hanif, Yousuf Butt, Mohammad Hamid, Samar Ishaq, Kamran Khan, Mohammad Ahmad, Rizwan Asif, Ahsanullah, Mohammad Adil, Mohammad Mujahid, Faisal Iqbal, Zia-us-Salam, Naved, Kaleemullah, Saeed Ahmad, Hasnain Abbas, Jadeed Khan Pathan, Zeeshan Rehman, Nabil Aslam, Shabir Khan, Adnan Ahmad, Amjad Iqbal, Hasan Bashir, Mohammad Ali.

by Alam Zeb Safi [The News]