Pakistan footballers rooting for India series [Express Tribune]

Pakistan footballers rooting for India series [Express Tribune]

Natasha Raheel – Express Tribune

KARACHI: Pakistan midfielder Saddam Hussain said he is looking forward to the team’s clash against their archrivals next month in India.

The series will see two matches on August 16 and August 21,

“Despite the rest period from the national camp, it is mandatory for every player to keep practicing,” Hussain told The Express Tribune.

“Having a break from the camp doesn’t mean it’s a holiday.

“The national camp will resume in August, but I need to be confident that I’m 100% ready to take on the challenge. India is a tough side on their home ground.

“I just want to make sure that I’ve done everything so that I can play my best for the team.

Hussain added that given the two sides’ traditional rivalry, the national team will go the extra mile while playing against India.

Pakistan last faced India in the South Asian Football Federation Championship in Nepal last year, where they lost 1-0.

Hussain emphasised that football is about investing time in understanding the game and practicing.

“If players don’t keep their fitness in check during the month-long break from the camp, it can spell disaster. I practice in the field for two hours before Iftar and train in the gym for another one-and-a-half-hour afterwards.”

He added that he will be excited to play with FC Dordoi duo Kaleemullah and Mohammad Adil again.

“We have a young side, the oldest player is 24 years old. Coach Mohamed Shamlan is trying his best to get us ready in time.”

Teenager Mansoor Khan, who will be playing against India for the first time as a part of the national side, said that he is also training in Mardan.

“I’m putting extra effort during the break, because it’s India. It’s a different state of mind altogether,” said Mansoor.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Football Federation Secretary Ahmed Yar Khan Lodhi said that the national camp for the series will begin on August 5 in Lahore.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 23rd,  2014.