KARACHI: Denmark-based striker Muhammad Ali said on Sunday that he would like to see Pakistan in the FIFA World Cup, but added that the country would have to work extremely hard for realising the dream.
“I want to see Pakistan in the World Cup. You know it would be a very big achievement but the country will need a lot of effort and particularly it will have to improve its league structure and make some other improvements,” Ali told ‘The News’ in an interview. When he was informed that Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) wanted to see its team in the 2022 World Cup, Ali said, “May be, I don’t know, but it’s a long time, almost ten years, it should be quick.”
Ali is staying with his cousin Abbas Adil in Quetta to get his identity card the absence of which forced him to miss Pakistan’s tours to Nepal and Maldives.
“I hope I will get my identity card soon,” said Ali, who plays for BK Avarta, a Danish club, playing in the Danish 2nd Division East, the third best league in Denmark.
He said that he would like to represent Pakistan in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Challenge Cup Qualifiers. “Yes, I am trying to complete my documents and will definitely want to play in the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers,” said Ali.
However, Ali said that it was not possible for foreign-based players including him to attend the camp in Pakistan for 20 or 25 days ahead of any international assignment. “It’s not possible for foreign-based players and especially in Denmark where a club may release you hardly four or five days before any international commitment and not more than that because we have to play a match every week there,” said the player.
“I plan to go back to Denmark and will be back in Pakistan when the authorities call me for the team’s camp for the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers,” said Ali.
Ali was optimistic about Pakistan’s chances to qualify for the final round of the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers. “Definitely, a couple of wins against Nepal recently might have instilled a lot of confidence in the players and I hope that there could be a chance in the qualifiers,” Ali said.
Pakistan have been placed in Group B with hosts Kyrgyzstan, former champions Tajikistan and Macau in the AFC Challenge Cup Qualifiers to be held from March 17 to 21.
Asked why Pakistani strikers failed to score in international matches despite making so many hat-tricks in domestic league, Ali said, “It’s always very difficult to play against nations.”
Ali said that Pakistan was a young side and would develop. “I think the current Pakistan’s side is young and could develop and it would take time,” he said.
Ali said he was confined to his cousin’s home in Quetta due to security fears. “Quetta is a dangerous place. The people tell me here not to go out and I am always at home here with my cousin who is also my best friend,” Ali disclosed.
“But not all the places here are dangerous as I know there is no such security problems in Lahore and Islamabad,” Ali remarked.
Ali made his international debut against Singapore last year. Ali, whose father Qurban Ali was also a footballer, was persuaded to play for Pakistan by FootballPakistan.com (FPDC) staff in UK.
It gave him the perfect opportunity to realise his dreams of playing at the international level after he failed to make it to the Danish youth team.