by Alam Zeb Safi
PESHAWAR: And eventually Pakistan senior football team is set to return to the international circuit when it faces Nepal in a one-off friendly at Dashrath Stadium in Kathmandu on Wednesday (today).
The match starts at 4:15pm PST.
This will be after three long years that Pakistan will play in the international circuit. The Green-shirts last played in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Cambodia in summer 2019.
During the last seven years Pakistan featured in only two international events and one was the 2018 SAFF Cup.
Pakistan head coach Shehzad Anwar is confident that the team will play well. “Yes, I am very much confident,” Shehzad told ‘The News’ from Kathmandu on Tuesday.
Knowing Nepal’s style of play and its strength, Shehzad said that it would be a good match. “Nepal’s style is totally different in the South Asian region. It is a good team but we have a fine combination and I am very much confident that we will deliver on our international return,” Shehzad said.
However, he was quick to add that it would also be a testing match for his boys. “You know we are returning to the international circuit after a long time. Although we have not played any game at the top level, we have trained hard and our boys are in top shape. The game will help us know how our players deliver in the international circuit,” Shehzad said.
“We are still in the selection phase. Until World Cup qualifiers next year we will keep testing a variety of players in order to build a strong side for the major event,” Shehzad said.
He said that the foreign-based players are also in top shape. “Yes, all foreign-based players are in fine shape as they have been playing regularly. They also had a training session with us and I am happy with their body language,” Shehzad said.
Pakistan initially wanted to play a three-match series against Nepal but eventually both nations agreed on a one-off game.
Denmark-based Hasan Bashir, who will lead the side, said that they are all ready to face Nepal. “We are ready to play against Nepal,” Hasan said. “We need prayers from the nation and all those who are backing us. We promise to give the best results,” Hasan said.
Pakistan squad: Saqib Hanif, Yousuf Butt, Abdul Basit (all goalkeepers), Zain Junior, Sohail Khan, Syed Junaid Shah, Abdullah Shah, Mamoon Musa, Abdullah Iqbal, Sardar Wali, Haseeb Khan (all defenders), Umair Ali, Zain-ul-Aabdeen Ishaq, Abdul Qadeer Khan, Alamgir Ghazi, Mohammad Adnan Yaqoob, Adnan Saeed (all midfielders), Mohammad Afzaal, Mohammad Waheed, Hasan Bashir, Mohammad Waleed Khan, Shayek Dost (all strikers)