Sports Correspondent – The News
KARACHI: Pakistan Under-19 football team coach Nasir Ismail said on Saturday that his charges were capable of springing surprises in the 2014 Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Under-19 Championship Qualifiers Group C, slated to be held at the Francouse Al-Hareeri Stadium in Arbil City in Iraq from October 8 to 12.
“The team is well prepared. The conditioning of the boys is of top quality and the side has improved a lot, both technically and tactically,” Nasir told ‘The News’ in an interview.
“We have also worked hard on mental toughness which is very important,” said Nasir, an AFC License A coach.
Kuwait, hosts Iraq and Bangladesh are in Pakistan’s group.
The Green-shirts will play against Kuwait on October 8, Iraq on October 10 and Bangladesh on October 12.
Nasir said that the match against Kuwait would be very important. “If we beat Kuwait, we will have a good chance to move ahead,” the coach said.
Experienced coach Mohammad Rasheed is serving in the camp in Lahore as Nasir’s assistant. Nadeem Abdul Rehman is acting as goalkeeping coach and Sheikh Siddiq Qadri as assistant coach cum manager and local coordinator.
Nasir said he had a few good players who could turn the table on the oppositions at any stage. “We have striker Mansoor Khan, who can score against any side. I hope he will play a major role in Pakistan’s cause,” Nasir said. “Then we also have Bilal, Sher Ali and Ishtiaq upfront and Mohammad Riaz in the midfield. We also have a good back-up.”
He said the PFF was expected to provide a brief foreign tour to his brigade before the Iraq assignment.
But PFF secretary Col Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi told this correspondent that it was difficult to give exposure to the team at this stage. Technically it was not right to put burden on the side just before the vital assignment, he said. “How could you arrange an international tour in such a short time?”