By Alam Zeb Safi,
KARACHI: K-Electric’s newly hired coach Majid Shafiq on Monday said he was hopeful that his side would give good news to Pakistan in the 2016 AFC Cup play-off qualifiers Group A which will be hosted by Bhutan from August 9-15.
“The clubs against whom we will play are also champions of their countries. All have equal chances, but I want K-E to give good news to Pakistan,” Majid, who resides in England, told ‘The News’ in an interview.
K-Electric have been placed in Group A with hosts Bhutan’s Druk United and Mongolia’s Khoromkhon FC.
K-Electric will face Druk United on August 11 and Khoromkhon FC on August 13.
Five-time Kyrgyzstan champions Alga FC have been placed in Group B with Sheikh Jamal Dhanmondi Club of Bangladesh and Casa Benfica of Macau.
The group slots will be held in Bishkek.
The winners of each group will move into the next year’s play-offs.
Majid, whose services have been hired for two matches in Bhutan, was happy with the way his players were responding to his coaching.
“I am really happy that the players have an amazing ability to learn and digest what I teach them,” said Majid, an Oxford graduate.
As many as 20 players are training under Majid and the coach said that he would finalise the squad soon. “I would like to finalise the strategy and squad by Thursday,” Majid said.
But he may face problems in the make-up of his team if the NOC issue of the Nigerian players was not resolved in time.
It was expected that K-Electric will get NOC for Oludeyi Sunday and Wilson Segun on Monday but an official of K-E said he had not yet got any response from the ministry.
“Despite great effort I could not contact the interior ministry official today. The ministry has disposed off other NOC cases but our matter is still pending. I am really worried,” a senior K-E official told this correspondent.
Majid said it would be a bonus if the Nigerian duo became part of the touring party. “It would really help us. I have already asked their mentor and former Nigerian player Jay-Jay Okocha and he has told me about their fitness and form. I would like to see them in the camp in the next few days. They are key players,” Majid said.
However, he was quick to add that if they did not arrive, they had enough quality players to make a strong side.
He termed the presence of skipper Mohammad Essa a huge factor. “Essa’s presence in the team is a massive factor. He is a shrewd player and if he is put even in a weak side he will enliven it,” Majid added.
He also appreciated KE’s sports chief Zabe Khan for the way he kept his players happy. “Zabe is a good leader. The players are happy with him. It really optimises the confidence and boosts the discipline when the boys are happy,” Majid observed. Two England-based players Irfan Khan and Shani Abbasi are also part of the K-E camp.