Alam Zeb Safi – The News
KARACHI: Former Pakistan coach Mohammad Rashid on Monday said that Mohammad Shamlan’s charges were capable of beating strong Yemen in their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers first round this month.
“Induction of foreign-based players has strengthened the side and I hope that Pakistan will beat Yemen,” Rashid told ‘The News’ in an interview.
“I have seen foreign-based players Zeeshan Rehman and Hasan Bashir. They are mature and technically very strong. Although I have not seen Danish defender Nabil Aslam but his career shows that he has a sound background and has played from a fine Superliga side of AC Horsens. And I hope they would play a major role in Pakistan’s success,” added Rashid.
Rashid was the coach when Pakistan defeated Singapore in the 2008 Beijing Olympic qualifiers first round. However, in the second round Pakistan had to taste defeats at the hands of strong Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar.
He hoped that Shamlan would adopt an aggressive approach while playing against Yemen.
“Shamlan is a shrewd coach. In the friendly against Afghanistan in Lahore, he had opted for a defensive strategy and used counter-attack that paid dividends as Pakistan won that match 2-1. And I hope he will play his side with the sort of aggression needed to unsettle Yemen,” Rashid said.
Pakistan will face Yemen in the first leg at Doha on March 12. The second leg will be conducted at Punjab Stadium Lahore on March 17.
Although most of the key foreign-based players are yet to join Pakistan team but Rashid said it will not affect the team.
“The foreign-based players are professionals and they will gel with the team in no time. They are mentally strong and I feel their late joining will not affect the outfit’s make-up,” said Rashid, who played for Pakistan as a right-winger from 1981 to 1986.
While appreciating the approach of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) to provide foreign exposure to the team ahead of the vital assignment, Rashid said it was needed at this stage.
“It’s a good sign that the PFF is working hard on its players and has been giving constant exposure to the them which will help them in the qualifiers,” said Rashid, who also served Pakistan women team in two SAFF Championships in 2009 and 2012 in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka respectively.
After the World Cup qualifiers Pakistan would feature in the 2016 AFC Under-23 Championship qualifiers Group B at Lahore from March 23 to 31. Jordon, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan are in Pakistan’s group.
Rashid said it would be really a testing period for the Pakistan team.
“The teams in Pakistan’s group are strong. But Pakistani players are also good enough. They would have an added home advantage. I am optimistic that the team would give tough time to the visitors,” Rashid added.
As many as 15 Under-23 players are accompanying the senior side which is preparing in Thailand and a dozen are undergoing training at Lahore under Sajjad Mehmood.
But Rashid said that authorities should have given another coach to Sajjad.
“It would have been better if another coach could be inducted. By doing so, good preparations could have been made,” Rashid appended.