Amjad Iqbal unavailable for Challenge Cup qlfrs


KARACHI: Bradford-born midfielder Amjad Iqbal is not available for Pakistan duty during the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup Qualifiers to be held in Kyrgyzstan next month.

“Today I got a message from Amjad and he said that he will not be available for the qualifiers as he has failed to get permission from the institute where he is teaching,” Pakistan football team coach Zavisa Milosavljevic confirmed to ‘The News’ on Wednesday.

Amjad, who teaches chemistry in England, had shown his desire to make a comeback to Pakistan team for Singapore’s tour last year but he did not come due to certain reasons.

And again for the qualifiers he has failed to get permission from his bosses.

Amjad, who also plays for Bradford Park Avenue, last played for Pakistan in the 2009 SAFF Cup in Dhaka.

However, Zavisa said that the rest of the seven foreign-based players were confirmed. “Yes, the rest of the seven players are confirmed but we are yet to know when they will join the team,” said the Serbian, who has been coaching Pakistan team since November, 2011.

Zavisa said that the inclusion of foreign-based players in the team would help him form a good side.

“You know we need international experience and we are optimistic that we will be able to form a fighting unit,” said the coach.

Zeeshan Rehman, Shabbir Khan, Hasan Bashir, Yousuf Butt, Yaqoob Butt, Mohammad Ali and Adnan Ahmed are the foreign-based players expected to join the team.

He said that the training in Lahore was going well.

“We are now in good preparation phase and the players are thinking about improvement and have got a sort of confidence following the two back-to-back tours of Nepal and Maldives recently,” Zavisa said.

“The boys are psychologically motivated and it’s a good sign, especially, for me,” Zavisa said.

Meanwhile, a top official of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) said that the federation was still trying to arrange a tour for the team ahead of the qualifiers. “Kuwait, Bahrain and Dubai are on target and a country was expected to confirm it today but it did not and we are still waiting,” said the official.

Pakistan have been bracketed in Group B in the qualifiers with hosts Kyrgyzstan, former champions Tajikistan and Macau. The Greenshirts will face Tajikistan in their opener on March 17 in Bishkek, followed by their game on March 19 and Macau on March 21.

From: The News