by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Pakistan football team head coach Shehzad Anwar on Wednesday said that a final shortlist of 35-40 players will be made by Friday and after that the training camp will begin to prepare the national men’s senior team for future national duty.
“Yes, trials are in operation and we will continue testing the players until Friday as those players who could not make it to the trials for initial three days due to floods and other issues have been given extra time and they can come by Friday to be tested. Our doors are open to them as we don’t want to miss any talented player,” Shehzad told ‘The News’ in a detailed talk from Lahore.
Shehzad is supervising trials to make a solid pool for the training camp which will be formally started after September 2. Trials are underway at the Punjab Stadium in Lahore.
According to Shehzad, 125 players have been tested and of them around 50 have been shortlisted and the pool will be further trimmed in the next couple of days or so.
Shehzad said that there was no surprise seen in the trials as almost all mainstream players were able to impress the selectors with their fitness and skills.
“Yes, there was no issue as far as mainstream players’ fitness was concerned. It’s a fact that the fittest players can get through such trials. We had designed drills which could check the physical, technical, tactical and mental aspects of the players,” Shehzad said.
“On the first day we held trials the whole day, on the second day it was a half-day exercise due to rain, it was full day on the third day and today we held a session in the morning. Trials will continue until Friday,” he said.
“We have collected data and those players who failed to get shortlisted have been told what they should focus on to improve,” said Shehzad, who is being assisted by assistant coach Mohammad Habib, goalkeeping coach Zahid Taj and Raza, who is compiling data.
Shehzad said that effort is being made to arrange a home series. “Yes, effort is being made to arrange friendlies against any country. Outside FIFA Days, Palestine is available. The top priority is to host a nation. A few other countries have also been contacted,” said Shehzad, a Pro License coach. “Playing abroad is also an option if we are unable to get a breakthrough in managing a home series,” he said.
It’s important to keep Pakistan team in training as next year will be filled with events. The nation will feature in the World Cup Qualifiers, SAFF Cup and most probably in the South Asian Games which Pakistan is supposed to host in the last part of the 2023. Because of the Asian Games rescheduling, SAG dates may be pushed back.
Pakistan will also feature in the AFC Under-22 Championship Qualifiers next year.
Players are staying at the PSB Coaching Centre hostel. According to sources, players and officials will be given a decent daily allowance during the training phase.
“I think they will get more than what they used to get in the past,” said Shehzad, who also served as PFF Director Technical when Faisal Saleh Hayat was the PFF chief. He has coached clubs in Brazil too.