by Alam Zeb Safi
KARACHI: Pakistan’s senior men’s football team head coach Shehzad Anwar is confident that his charges will deliver against Maldives in an international friendly to be held on March 21 at Gan, the southernmost island of Addu city.
“Although our team is young with an average age of 22 years I am very much hopeful that the side will deliver against Maldives,” Shehzad told ‘The News’ on Friday in an interview.
Pakistan team is set to fly out of Lahore for Maldives via Dubai on Saturday (today).
Due to some personal work Shehzad will fly from Multan.
“Maldives are an experienced side with their players average age is 28 years. This is the same team which had featured in the 2018 SAFF Cup,” Shehzad said.
He said that the match will be played on artificial turf.
“The match will be played on artificial turf but our players will not face any issue as they are used to playing on artificial turfs here in Pakistan,” Shehzad said.
Pakistan team will land in Male and from there it will be transported to Gan by bus.
After reaching Gan the team will train twice before the scheduled clash which will be held at 3:45 pm on March 21.
“We will conduct two training sessions there before the match which will also help the boys adjust to the local conditions,” Shehzad said.
He refused to disclose the name of the captain, saying a Pakistan grown player will lead the side on the trip during which the Green-shirts will play just one game which is inside FIFA Days.
Pakistan did try to manage an additional game during the FIFA Days but due to loaded scheduled of the Asian nations it could not be made possible.
Pakistan team underwent training for around one month at the City School, Lahore. The camp had started immediately after the National Challenge Cup.
Denmark-based striker Abdul Samad Shehzad, London-based 19-year-old midfielder Harun Hamid and Pakistan-grown Mohammad Sufyan and Umar Saeed will make their debuts on the tour.
Denmark-based defender Abdullah Iqbal has also been retained in the 23-man squad. Abdullah had been tested in the international friendly against Nepal last year.
Having returned to international circuit after a long time due to various issues, Pakistan team is now being rebuilt for this year’s SAFF Cup and World Cup Qualifiers.
The SAFF Cup will be held in India in July and the World Cup Qualifiers will be conducted at the end of this year.
This correspondent has also learnt that effort is being made to manage a tour of Saudi Arabia for the senior men’s team after Ramadan.
Pakistan also intends to utilise June FIFA window and a couple of matches in that period will also be beneficial for preparing well for the SAFF Cup.
Goalkeepers: Saqib Hanif, Abdul Basit, Salman-ul-Haq;
Defenders: Mamoon Musa Khan, Syed Abdullah Shah, Abdullah Iqbal, Haseeb Ahmed Khan, Touqeer-ul-Hassan, Sardar Wali, Rao Umar Hayat, Abdul Qadeer Khan, Ali Khan Niazi, Mohammad Sufyan;
Midfielders: Ali Uzair, Alamgir Ghazi, Zain-ul-Abideen Ishaq, Harun Hamid;
Forwards: Shayek Dost, Mohammad Waleed Khan, Moin Ahmed, Abdul Samad Shahzad, Umar Saeed, Mohammad Waheed,
Officials: Shehzad Anwar (head coach), Mohammad Habib (assistant coach), Marcelo Costa Schroeder (goalkeeping coach), Rodrigo Esteves (trainer), Dr Adnan (physio), Hasnain Haider (media manager), Irtiza Hussain (analyst).