Faisal-led PFF to start camp for World Cup qualifiers in Bahrain today [The News]

Faisal-led PFF to start camp for World Cup qualifiers in Bahrain today [The News]

KARACHI: Pakistan’s football matter is going to take an interesting twist as national footballers, both home and foreign-based, will assemble in Bahrain on Tuesday (today) under the banner of FIFA-recognised Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) to begin preparations for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers first round against Cambodia next month.

Sources told ‘The News’ that 22 players would report for the camp at Manama. Those invited to the camp include Denmark-based gloveman Yousuf Butt, Hasan Bashir, Mohammad Ali, Adnan Mohammad, England-born Zeeshan Rehman and a few others based in other countries.

Around ten Pakistan-based players would also be part of the camp.The qualifiers away leg will be held on June 6, followed by the home leg on June 11.The PFF led by Ashfaq Hussain Shah began a camp at the Jinnah Stadium, Islamabad, from May 5.

It had invited 33 players to the camp, but some of them failed to report due to various reasons.Ashfaq-led body cannot field the team in the qualifiers because it is not recognised by FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). It is only the Faisal Saleh Hayat-led body which can field the team in the qualifiers.

The Ashfaq-led body has the support of the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB). Brazilian coach Jose Antonio Nogueira will supervise the camp.His support staff will comprise Brazilian trainer Jose Portella, a Brazilian goal-keeping coach and four Pakistan-based officials.The sources said that the first training session would be conducted on Tuesday (today) night.

The issue has inflicted an unprecedented damage on Pakistan’s football. After staying away from international circuit for almost three years Pakistan returned to international circuit last year when FIFA lifted ban on the nation which it had imposed near the end of 2017 after Lahore High Court (LHC) restored Faisal as the PFF head. Pakistan featured in the Asian Games in Indonesia last year and SAFF Cup in Dhaka.

Pakistan also played an international friendly against Palestine in Al-Ram before moving to Doha in December last year for a for the Olympic and World Cup qualifiers.But the nation missed the Olympic qualifiers which it had to feature in Uzbekistan in March 2019 because of the same issue.

Ashfaq-led body has control over the PFF headquarters and accounts.FIFA has already announced that it would be sending a joint mission of both FIFA and the AFC to Lahore later this month. The mission will hold talks with all parties concerned before deciding about the way forward.

The other day the Ashfaq-led body Vice-President Naved Haider said that FIFA would have to accept the decision of the Supreme Court. “FIFA has to accept the decision of the Supreme Court. We are not going to surrender. We are the legal Pakistan Football Federation (PFF),” Naved told a press conference at Lahore the other day.

Published in The News, 14 May 2019