by Faizan Lakhani
KARACHI: The Pakistan women’s football team has launched its preparation for next month’s international friendlies and are hoping to focus on attacking brand of football.
The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is in discussion with Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius and other countries to finalise international friendlies for the team during next month’s FIFA window. A final decision on an opponent is likely by next week.
But, the players are focused on their goal, which is to display better football than before.
They’re working under the guidance of coach Adeel Rizki at three different venues in Karachi in different sessions to improve their physical strength and game skills.
Adeel says that in the camp, their main focus is to work on making sure that the team keeps playing attacking football.
“There’s always room for improvement and we are trying to improve in all areas, but main thing is progression, we have organised our defensive line. You must have seen how we contained the Philippines. In this camp, our main focus is on pressing, ball movement, creating spaces and making sure we keep playing an attacking brand of football,” Adeel told Geo News on the sidelines of a practice session in KPT stadium.
“We have progressed well, we have done well in camps, and you must have noticed the progression in our team. We are consistently working on the same things and the same ideas to develop the players and bring them on a good stage,” he added.
The coach added that the team is looking good and players are injury free. He said that idea is also to provide players with different kinds of conditions and pitches so that they can prepare well for future assignments.
He further said that this window is a very good opportunity for the team as they can try and experiment few different things.
The PFF has announced 27 players for the preparatory camp ahead of the FIFA friendlies. Adeel confirmed that Malika Noor was excused from the camp due to personal reasons, while Amina Hanif had to appear in academic exams.
He added Kayenat Bukhari will join the camp next week, while Zulfia Nazir and Kyla Siddiqi will join in the first week of July.
US-based Kyla Siddiqi is named in the Pakistan women’s team for the first time, and Adeel spoke highly of her.
“She is a quality player who fits into my coaching philosophy,” Adeel said.
He also said that having diaspora players in the team is beneficial for local players as well.
“It gives an advantage to our local players, as they get to play with players who are seasoned and get to learn from them. We don’t invite everyone, we do our scrutiny and see who can fit in and bring value to our team and when they play with our local players it allows local players to learn,” he said.
Team to miss Nadia Khan
Pakistan will also miss the services of Nadia Khan as she recently underwent surgery in the United Kingdom, and the rehabilitation process will take 8 months.
Pakistan women’s team captain Maria Khan said that team is going to miss her presence as Nadia is a brilliant player on and off the field, but other players are ready to take charge.
She added that Pakistan is going to continue to try to build on the brand and identity of football that the team want to play, which is an attacking style.
“I am confident that we will be able to achieve that,” Maria said.
“We are really excited, this is our fourth camp since we have been back in action, we continue to get better every time. Our growth is good, we have the potential, we need to keep playing international games so that we can get more and more exposure,” she said.
“It is definitely team performances and not the individual performances that get the team recognised, it is a team effort and everyone is playing their part,” she added.
Participants of the training camp are also looking forward to future assignments. They say that getting an opportunity to play more international football is good for Pakistan’s women’s national team, and it will only help the team progress in the right direction.
“We have improved a lot since we made our comeback into the international arena. When we were playing SAFF Cup last year, a lot of players were out of touch and were not training but now everyone has achieved tactical understanding and fitness level. We are growing and we have to go higher. It is important for us to get more exposure because no matter how much training you do, you learn only when you play against top competitors that’s why it is important for us to get more matches,” said Suha Hirani who is a midfielder in Pakistan women football team.
Rameen Farid, another player, said that they are preparing well and giving their best in training sessions.
“We are excited for these friendlies as we believe that this exposure will help us in improving our game. We are progressing gradually, and I am happy with our progress, we are looking forward to doing better in future. We need to work more on fitness and get more aggressive tactically,” said Rameen.