Training camp underway: KE begin preparations for AFC Cup qualifiers [Express Tribune]

Training camp underway: KE begin preparations for AFC Cup qualifiers [Express Tribune]

KARACHI: The ongoing problems at the Pakistan Football Federation mean that the national team may not be competing in international tournaments any time soon but national champions K-Electric (KE) will be representing the country at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup qualifiers in Bhutan from August 9.

A training camp has been set up at the Pakistan Steel Mills as the two new recruits, UK-based Pakistanis Shani Abbasi and Irfan Khan, practiced with the team for the first time.

According to KE Head of Sports Marketing and Brand Activation Zabe Khan, the session seemed promising and the two foreign players have begun adjusting to the environment.

Zabe added that the two players, who have played for professional and semi-professional sides in the UK, responded well to the camp. “It’s a start and it will take some time for them to gel with the team,” he toldThe Express Tribune. “It certainly feels like the team will come together in time as we are also waiting for our Nigerian players to join the camp on Wednesday.”

Zabe confirmed that KE have signed Shaani, 21, and Irfan, 26, specifically for the AFC Cup qualifiers, but their contracts may be extended depending on their performances in Bhutan.

“We might sign them for the Pakistan Premier League too, but that is after the AFC Cup qualifiers,” said Zabe.

The Karachi-based side will be up against Bhutan’s Druk United on August 11, while their second fixture sees them pitted against Mongolia’s Khoromkhon FC on August 13.

Meanwhile KE’s coach Hasan Baloch will be assisting Majid Shafiq, an FA-registered coach from England and former director of the Stalybridge Celtic FC Academy.

Baloch believes that a lot of hard work needs to go into the 15-day camp if they are to have any chance of qualifying for the tournament. “We are trying our best,” he said. “It’s a short period of time to make a winning team, but so far all three additions — the two players and Shafiq — have been promising.

Nigeria’s Sunday Oludey and Wilsom Obayuni have been with KE for the past two years and are integral parts of the side.