Foreign talent may be tested in friendlies [The News]

Foreign talent may be tested in friendlies [The News]

by Alam Zeb Safi

KARACHI: Pakistan senior men’s football team management is expected to test some new foreign players in order to form a solid combination ahead of this year’s major events, including SAFF Cup and World Cup Qualifiers.

A team official told this correspondent that a few new players from England, Norway, Germany and Denmark are on the radar of the team management and it is expected that some of them may be tested in this month’s FIFA Window during which Pakistan team is likely to play a couple of friendlies against Maldives in Maldives and then in another window in June.

“We seek to build a fine combination for major events and the international friendlies will be fully utilised to test both local and foreign-based players. We may test a few fresh foreign-based players also in the coming FIFA windows in March and June so that we could form a better combination for this year’s major assignments,” the official told this correspondent.

“We already know about foreign players who have already been used and the best from that lot will always be an option for national duty but it will be better if we also test some new boys from abroad,” the official said.

Pakistan team camp has been in progress since February 16 at the City School Ground Lahore.

Although it is officially not yet confirmed, there are chances that Pakistan will meet Maldives in a couple of friendlies from March 20 to 28 in Maldives.

Initially a tri-nation series was expected carrying Pakistan, Maldives and Bhutan but Bhutan has now entered into a tri-nation series with Laos and Nepal.

As many as 36 players initially had been invited to the camp in Lahore but the strength has been slashed to 30 now and it will be further reduced to final 26 in the next few days which will tour Maldives.

The official said that the boys are in top shape. “Although the boys were a bit tired when they joined the camp as they had come into the camp after featuring in the Challenge Cup league round, now everything is fine and they are in good shape,” the official said.

“There are no major injuries to any player. Yes, there is a senior player who is struggling a bit in the camp. Let’s see how he improves,” the official said.

The official said that after the Maldives tour the boys will take rest in Ramadan and from May 12 the camp again will be held.

It is pertinent to mention here that some departmental players, who belong to national team, will also undergo training in Ramadan in order to prepare for the 34th National Games slated to be held in Quetta from May 15-23.

And the National Games schedule may force the FIFA-appointed PFF NC to review the already settled schedule of the knock-out stage of the PFF Challenge Cup which will be held from May 1.

The rebuilding phase of Pakistan’s football team is in progress and Maldives tour will be its second trip following its tour to Nepal last November which marked the international return of the national brigade after three long years.

Published in The News, 2 March 2023