by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Pakistan football team head coach Shehzad Anwar on Tuesday said that his charges have made huge progress in the camp and are ready for national duty.
“The boys have made huge progress in the camp and are ready for national duty,” Shehzad told ‘The News’ from Lahore where he is handling a 36-man camp.
“We are in the fourth week of this camp. Around four and a half hours training is done on daily basis in two sessions, covering various areas. I am happy with the way the boys have so far responded,” said Shehzad, a Pro License coach.
It is highly expected that a foreign nation will tour Pakistan in November to play a two-match series which will help the nation to earn some ranking points.
Pakistan mostly remained in international exile over the last seven years and rarely featured in international circuit due to sanctions, internal politics and legal matters.
However, after FIFA lifted the ban the other month the country’s top players got an opportunity to assemble at the PFF headquarters in Lahore for training.
FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee has contacted several nations of South Asia and beyond for a series in Pakistan.
It has been learnt that Maldives has also been contacted and it has given a very solid response.
Palestine is still an option, it was learnt. The NC wants to host a nation which could help the national team to return to international circuit.
Pakistan recently hired the services of Brazilian trainer Rodrigo Santos and goalkeeping coach Marcelo Costa. They have started training the troops in the most modern way.
“We are working hard and hopefully a good team will be prepared for the future,” Shehzad said. He said that the strength in the camp would be reduced once a series was confirmed.
“Yes, we will reduce the strength to 26 or 25 once we learn that we will play the series,” said Shehzad, also a former PFF Director Technical.
He said that Sports Punjab’s gym facilities have been utilised and whenever it was required weight training and other facilities were also availed.
Pakistan players are staying at a hotel. Shehzad said that there is no major injury to any player. Goalkeeper Muzammil Hussain is resting due to back and knee issues.
“Minor injuries are natural but there are no major injuries. Yes Muzammil is suffering from back and knee issues and he is taking rest. We are hopeful that he will recover soon,” Shehzad said.
Pakistan has hired the services of physio Dr Adnan who has also worked with the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF). It has been learnt that Lahore will be the major option for holding the two-match series.
Sources said that there is no top facility in Karachi where an international game could be held and Islamabad Jinnah Stadium is being renovated. Sources said that Punjab Stadium Lahore is also being renovated but Sports Board Punjab (SBP) has assured NC that the venue will be made ready by November.
It is pertinent to mention here that Peoples Sports Complex is a major venue in Karachi but its condition is too bad to host any international game.
Pakistan senior team, which missed loads of international events during the last seven years, played its last event in 2019 when it played the 2022 World Cup Qualifiers against Cambodia. The first leg was held in Cambodia and the second leg Pakistan hosted in Doha. Pakistan lost both matches. Because of internal wrangling, Pakistan held its camp in Bahrain for the qualifiers.