Injured Jaffar Khan ruled out of SAFF Cup [The News]

Alam Zeb Safi – The News

KARACHI: Pakistan football team received a major blow when skipper Jaffar Khan was ruled out of the friendly against Afghanistan and the SAFF Cup due to a knee injury as Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) unveiled its squad on Sunday.

The goalie was not included in the 17-member team travelling to Kabul on Monday (today) to face Afghanistan in their one-off FIFA friendly to be held on Tuesday (tomorrow).

Jaffar had received a serious knee injury in March during a match of the Inter-Services Football tournament at the Naval Sports Complex.

After a few months rest he joined the national camp for the SAFF Cup in Lahore and was expected to make it to the team for the Nepal event. But the latest MRI report showed that his Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) was almost ruptured forcing the authorities to drop him for the coming tours including the all-important SAFF Cup.

“The only option for such an injury is to carry out surgery of the knee joint,” Pakistan team physiotherapist Dr Kamran told ‘The News’ on Sunday.

He added that even after surgery it takes a player minimum six months to recover implying that Jaffar will also miss the Premier League starting from September 1.

Meanwhile, national coach Zavisa Milosavljevic avoided making too many changes in the Kabul-bound squad.

Midfielder Mohammad Riaz and goalkeeper Muzammil Hussain are the new inductees. The foreign-based players are not the part of the team for Kabul tour and will join the squad in Nepal for the SAFF Cup.

Zavisa said that the match against Afghanistan would help his players to test what they learnt during training.

“I think it will help us how to implement the 4-4-2 formation, the offensive strategy and the plan we have already prepared for the SAFF Cup,” the Serbian said. Pakistan’s match against Afghanistan will be the first in the war-ravaged country since 2003 when they hosted Turkmenistan at the Ghazi Stadium.

“I remember we had played a friendly against Pakistan 36 years ago and had beaten them 1-0 when Daud Khan was the president of Afghanistan and this would be the second in history against Pakistan on our soil,” AFF Director Technical Tahir Raufi told ‘The News’ from Kabul.

He said that the preparations were complete for the showpiece match.

“Everything has been finalised. Most of the tickets have been sold and we hope that the stadium would be jam-packed on that particular day,” said Tahir.

The match, which will take place on an artificial turf, will start at 4:00pm PST.

Pakistan squad: Saqib Hanif, Muzammil Hussain, Mohammad Hameed, Samar Ishaq, Kamran Khan, Muhammad Ahmed, Ahsanullah, Saddam Hussain, Muhammad Adil, Faisal Iqbal, Yasir Afridi, Zia Us Salam, Naveed Ahmed, Mohammad Riaz, Kaleemullah, Muhammad Mujahid, Saeed Ahmed

Officials: Milosavljevic Zavisa (head coach/manager), Shahzad Anwar (assistant coach), Aslam Khan (goalkeeping coach), Kamran Mehdi (physiotherapist / assistant manager).