Footballers to train for UK tour from 25 May

KARACHI: National footballers will assemble in Lahore on May 25 to undergo training for the England tour where they will be taking on their arch-rivals India and Bangladesh in early June.

As per schedule of the triangular series, being organised by the India-based high-profile Celebrity Management Group (CMG), India will face Bangladesh at the Fulham FC Ground on June 1, followed by matches between Pakistan and India on June 4 and Pakistan and Bangladesh on June 8.

Fulham FC are co-organisers of the series which is expected to attract a good crowd.

This correspondent learnt that the organisers have started selling tickets and have received good response from the football fans belonging to South Asia.

A top official of the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) told ‘The News’ on Friday that six foreign-based footballers had also been invited for the tour. England-based midfielder Adnan Ahmed, left-back Shabbir Khan, Denmark-based strikers Hasan Bashir and Mohammad Ali, defender Yaqoob Butt and gloveman Yousuf Butt have been invited for the tour.

Hong-Kong based celebrated defender Zeeshan Rehman will not be part of the tour. Well-placed sources said that Zeshan, commonly known as Zesh, was no more in the good books of the PFF because of his non-serious approach and commitment towards national duty.

Zesh has most of the times skipped Pakistan’s duty.

It is not yet confirmed whether the country’s experienced goalie and national team’s skipper Jaffar Khan will be available for the tour. Jaffar developed a serious knee injury while playing for Army during an Inter-Services Football tournament here at the end of March.

But a PFF official said he expected Jaffar had recovered and would go with the team to England. But he was quick to add that his fitness would be known during the National Challenge Cup starting at the Dring Stadium in Bahawalpur from May 15 in which 16 outfits from the country will be taking part.

The PFF official said that efforts would be made to arrange a practice game for the team on the England tour because there would be a three-days gap in their matches against India and Bangladesh.

Mostly those players will be sent to England who will play in the SAFF Cup to be hosted by Nepal in September-October.

‘The News’ has learnt that the Pakistan contingent will comprise 15 home-based and six foreign-based players. There will be four officials.

Sources said that a handful of contingent officials, including top office-bearers of the PFF, are expected to accompany the side. Pakistan’s Serbian coach Zavisa Milosavljevic will supervise the camp. Zavisa, who is expected to quit as Pakistan coach after expiry of his two-year contract in early November, is enjoying leave in Serbia these days and will return to Pakistan on May 15 to make necessary arrangements for the camp.

The Greenshirts last toured England in March 2001 under the English coach John Layton for the preparations of the 2002 World Cup qualifiers.

A couple of years ago a bilateral series between Pakistan and India was cancelled at the eleventh hour after the organisers failed to get the required sponsorship.

from: The News