‘Injured’ Zesh opts out of Afghan friendly [Dawn]

‘Injured’ Zesh opts out of Afghan friendly [Dawn]

KARACHI: Ace defender Zesh Rehman will not be arriving for Pakistan’s international friendly against Afghanistan on Saturday due to injury, Pakistan football team head-coach Mohammad Al Shamlan disclosed on Monday.

“It is a blow for us because Zesh will not be coming for the game,” Shamlan told Dawn from Lahore. “He called me up and told me he’s injured and won’t be able to join the team.”

The game against Afghanistan was to give Pakistan much-needed match practice ahead of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers and the AFC U-23 Championship qualifiers in March.

The match against Afghanistan would’ve marked Zesh’s return to the national team for the first time in 14 months but now the Pahanag FA centre-back will have to wait another month to return to international action.

“Zesh, however, said he will be coming for the World Cup qualifiers,” Shamlan added.

Pakistan will learn their opponents in the first round of the qualifiers after a draw on Feb 10 with the two-legged playoff tie to be played on March 12 and 17.

They have been bracketed in Pot 2 for the draw and can be drawn against arch-rivals India, Sri Lanka, Yemen, Cambodia, Chinese Taipei and Timor-Leste.

Former Fulham defender Zesh had earlier told Dawn he would be arriving on either Monday or Tuesday. He did not respond to an enquiry by Dawn on Monday.