by Alam Zeb Safi
LAHORE: Following a 3-0 defeat at the hands of hosts Mauritius on Sunday in their opener, Pakistan football team will be facing another stiff challenge when they meet tough Kenya in their second clash of the Four-Nation Cup at Stade de Cote d’Or, Saint Pierre, on Wednesday (today).
It was a huge shock for Pakistan to concede three goals inside 18 minutes after a goalless first half against fast-paced Mauritius.
Pakistan team, dominated by the foreign-based players, lacked coordination which helped the opposition to pull off a big win.
On Wednesday (today), the Green-shirts will have to work extra hard as Kenya are a tough side to beat.
“Yes, the Kenyans are tough to face,” Pakistan head coach Shehzad Anwar told ‘The News’ from Mauritius on Tuesday. “But we will be playing with full strength and inshaAllah the team will get gelled before the SAFF Cup,” he said. Portugal-based former England Under-20 centre-back Easah Suliman and Denmark-based B-93 defender Abdullah Iqbal have also joined the squad. Their presence will boost Pakistan’s defence as both are fine actors with Birmingham-born Suliman to make his Pakistan debut.
“Yes, both are here,” Shehzad said. “We will not be lacking in any zone. It will be a complete team and we will try to leave an impression against Kenya who lost to Iran a couple of months ago 2-1,” Shehzad said.
“Against Mauritius, we played well in the first half but in the second Mauritius played so well and did not give us any room to penetrate,” said Shehzad, an AFC Pro License coach.
“Some players were playing for the first time and there were some technical issues. We have worked on them and today too we are going to undergo training and hopefully it will be a good match,” he said.
He also defended his Denmark-based keeper and captain Yousuf Butt’s performance in the first game in which he made some mistakes that let the team down.
“He came out rightly as he narrowed the gap but it did not help as unfortunately we conceded the second goal. But overall he did well under the cage,” Shehzad said.
On Monday the game between Djibouti and Kenya was cancelled as the latter reached Mauritius late. Djibouti were awarded three points.
The event is very important for Pakistan who are set to feature in the SAFF Cup which will be conducted by India in Bengaluru from June 21 to July 4. Pakistan team plans to move from Mauritius to India directly on June 18.
According to sources, Pakistan applied for India visas at the Indian embassy in Mauritius on Tuesday.
The team is also waiting for an NOC from the government back home to participate in the event in India.
Squad: Goalkeepers: Saqib Hanif, Salman-ul-Haq, Yousaf Ijaz Butt; Defenders: Muhammad Umar Hayat, Ali Khan Niazi, Muhammad Sufyan, Mamoon Moosa Khan, Syed Abdullah Shah, Haseeb Ahmed Khan, Sardar Wali, Easah Suliman, Abdullah Iqbal; Midfielders: Alamgir Ali Khan Ghazi, Ali Uzair Mahmood, Moin Ahmed, Shayak Dost, Muhammad Waleed Khan, Rahis Nabi, Harun Hamid, Muhammad Adnan Yaqoob; Forwards: Abdul Samad Shahzad, Otis Jan Mohammad Khan, Hassan Naweed Bashir, Muhammad Waheed