Zeeshan to join team ahead of SAFF Cup [The News]

Zeeshan to join team ahead of SAFF Cup [The News]

KARACHI: Former Pakistan captain Zeeshan Rehman will join national football team three or four days before the country’s journey in the SAFF Cup slated to be held in Dhaka from September 4-15.

A team source confirmed on Thursday that the 34-year old professional defender will be part of Pakistan side in the Bangladesh event. Birmingham-born 34-year-old Zesh is associated with the Hong Kong Premier League club Southern District FC.

Meanwhile, the source said that Danish Superliga midfielder Adnan Mohammad will also be available for the SAFF Cup which Pakistan are yet to win. “Adnan will reach Pakistan by August 25,” the source said. The 21-year-old winger Adnan plays for Denmark’s top-tier football club Superliga Helsingor FC.

If Adnan joins, it will strengthen the side for the seven-team SAFF Cup. In SAFF Cup, Pakistan have been clubbed in Group A with Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. The record seven-time winners India, Sri Lanka and Maldives are in Group B.

The leading two sides from each group will progress to the semi-finals.It was also learnt on Thursday that Denmark-based gloveman Yousuf Butt has joined Pakistan team in Bahrain the other day.

“Yousuf has reached Bahrain and also those three footballers who got their visas late,” a PFF official said. Besides Yousuf, Hassan Bashir (Denmark), Abdullah Ghazi (USA) and Mohammad Ali (Denmark) are the other foreign-based players who are accompanying the Pakistan side which has set up a training camp in Manama to prepare for the 18th Asian Games slated to be held in the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang from August 18 to September 2.

Pakistan will play four matches in Bahrain.According to information, the Green-shirts will face Budaiya Club in their opener on Friday (today). On July 23, they will meet Riffa Club, followed by their match against Muharraq Club on July 26 and Al-Ahli on July 29. Pakistan will return on July 31.

As many 30 players and four officials are touring Bahrain. Pakistan team has been staying at the Elite Grande Hotel in Manama.Brazilian coach Jose Antonio Nogueira and trainer Jose Portella are also with the team. WAPDA coach Mohammad Habib is assisting Nogueira.

Former Pakistan captain Mohammad Essa and PFF Director Technical Shehzad Anwar did not go with the team. However, the duo will travel with the side to Indonesia for the Asian Games.In the Asian Games, Pakistan have been bracketed in Group D with Japan, Vietnam and Nepal.

The PFF will finalise the squad for the Asiad after the team’s return from Manama. As per rules, a nation can field under-23 players, along with three seniors, in the quadrennial event which will begin from August 14.

Danish gloveman Yousuf Butt, midfilder Mehmood Khan and defender Saddam Hussain are the seniors who are on radar of the PFF to be inducted into the Asian Games squad.And it is expected that the captain will also be from the trio.

Published in The News, 20 July 2018