Pak Under-23 players facing host of issues [The News]

Pak Under-23 players facing host of issues [The News]

LAHORE: Pakistan under-23 football team is facing huge problems in its preparations for the 2024 Asian Cup Qualifiers.

According to sources, the team, which is training at the Kunj Ground in Abbottabad, is being handled by only head coach Shehzad Anwar.

Sources told ‘The News’ that there is no other official with Shehzad which has created a huge issue. Sources said that Shehzad is working in various capacities. Sources said that there is huge uncertainty around as it is not yet known who will be working with Shehzad as support staff during the Group D qualifiers which will begin in Bahrain from September 6.

The Green-shirts will play their opener against Japan on September 6, against Bahrain on September 9 and Palestine on September 12.

The 43 nations have been clubbed in 11 groups. The top team from each group and four best runners-up will join hosts Qatar in the Asian Cup in Qatar next year.

Sources said that the training pitch is extremely hard and uneven which has also caused injuries to some players.

Sources said that it is a huge negligence on the part of the authorities to opt for this venue for preparation.

This correspondent has learnt that the players, staying at the FIFA Football House in Abbottabad, cannot sleep in the night and in day time due to noise as the facility is very close to the market. Sources said that the team missed morning training session the other day as the boys had not slept due to power outage. Sources said that the boys sit outside the hostel when power supply is suspended.

This correspondent understands that the boarding facility is nauseating and is not suitable for the under-23 team which also has a substantial number of such players who are also part of the national senior team which will face Cambodia in October in the 2026 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

This correspondent has learnt that Shehzad Anwar has requested the PFF Normalisation Committee that he should be given a few officials but so far nothing concrete has happened in that direction.

Sources said that Shehzad also acts as goalkeeping coach, manager, physio and he has a lot of load on his shoulders.

During Pakistan senior team’s recent stints in Mauritius and India the country’s goalkeeping department looked a bit weak and it was required to focus more on this area. Shehzad also trains goalkeepers who will need to play a lead role in Bahrain where Pakistan will also face Asian giants Japan who have been training extremely hard for this event.

Published in The News, 26 August 2023