PFF calls 36 players for national training camp [The News]

PFF calls 36 players for national training camp [The News]

by Alam Zeb Safi

KARACHI: Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) Normalisation Committee on Tuesday named 36 players for the men’s national senior football team camp which will formally begin from Thursday (tomorrow).

The players will start assembling at Lahore from Wednesday (today). Some will report on Thursday. The plan is to begin training from Thursday evening at the City School Lahore which has been the key training zone for the national team since 2011.

The basic aim of the camp is to prepare the lot for a number of international commitments coming up. The national brigade is expected to play a couple of friendlies against Maldives at the latter’s backyard. Bhutan is also expected to join them.

In June there will be the SAFF Cup in Dhaka* and towards the end of the year Pakistan will take part in the World Cup qualifiers.

Among the probables announced for the camp there are some new faces who will join the national senior team’s camp for the first time. There are also some boys in the list who were part of the national camp ahead of the Nepal’s tour but had been omitted after some time when the authorities were divided over the strength of the team.

The new players include Fareed (Muslim Club), Abdur Rehman (defender, Otto Cranes), left-back Faisal (Karachi United), central defender Raheel (Army), Essa and Nek Alam, who both represented PAF in the Challenge Cup and Sufyan.

The country’s finest attacking midfielder Mohammad Riaz, who used to play for the now-disbanded K-Electric, has staged a comeback. Riaz was a permanent part of Pakistan’s senior team until 2019. He was the find of the Geo Super League held here a decade ago.

Umar Saeed, who was in the camp when Pakistan’s Bahraini coach Shamlan Sharida was handling the national side a few years ago, is also in the list. Umar, a former PAF and K-Electric player, recently played for SA Gardens in the Challenge Cup whose league phase concluded the other day.

Pakistan’s head coach Shehzad Anwar told ‘The News’ on Tuesday that effort would be made to build a strong side ahead of the major international commitments.

“Yes, we plan to groom this lot ahead of major events. There are 18 or 19 international players in the probables list,” Shehzad said.

“We already had some solid players and some were picked for the camp on the basis of their performances in the PFF National Challenge Cup,” Shehzad said.

“The camp strength will be squeezed after a couple of week training sessions. There is the possibility to stop the camp for some time during Ramadan. It will be held then after the National Challenge Cup knock-out stage which will begin from May 1,” Shehzad said.

He said that they have got an invitation from Thailand. Effort will be made to utilise different options as it will help the team prepare well for major assignments this year, including SAFF Cup and World Cup Qualifiers, he said.

Shehzad will be assisted by Mohammad Habib, Zahid Taj, Marcelo Costa Schroeder (goalkeeping coach), Rodrigo Esteves dos Santos (trainer), Ali Khan, Dr Adnan, Dr Azam and Abdul Qayyum, who will act as masseur.

Camp probables:

Goalkeepers: Abdul Basit, Saqib Hanif, Salman-Ul-Haq, Hassan Ali, Usman Shoukat.

Defenders: Rao Umar Hayat, Raheel Nawaz, Qurban Ali, Abdul Qadeer Khan, Ali Khan Niazi, Mamoon Musa Khan, Sardar Wali, Abdullah Shah, Haseeb Ahmed Khan, Syed Junaid Shah, Saeed Khan, Abdur Rahman and Faisal Ali

Midfielders: Ali Uzair, Umair Ali, Zain-ul-Abideen Ishaq, Umar Saeed, Nek Alam, Muhammad Riaz, Fahim Ullah, Alamgir Ghazi, Taha, Touqeer, Muhammad Sufyan

Forwards: Waleed Khan, Moin, Muhammad Waheed, Shayek Dost, Essa Bahadur, Muhammad Afzal, Fareed.

Published in The News, 15 February 2023

*SAFF confirmed on 14 Feb that India will host the 2023 SAFF Championship